Friday, December 06, 2013

A Familiar ABQ Face Stands Behind Prez, Plus: Manny Is Back; Will He Again Play In La Politica? And: More Media Woes For Susana; AP Sues Her 

Hey, isn't that former ABQ City Councilor Michael Cadigan standing behind President Obama  (top row, second from left) at a Tuesday DC event promoting Obamacare?

It sure is, but the White House was not releasing any details about who the 19 people gathered to pose with the president were.

We asked Cadigan, a Democrat and an ABQ attorney who served on the city council from 2001-09, how he ended up posing with the Prez:

I was invited after a news story appeared on my success in signing my firm up for health insurance through the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange. I saved the firm $1000 per month. For my five seconds of face time with the President I told him he should visit New Mexico soon. His face lit up and he said he loves New Mexico and would try to visit soon. 

Good to hear that the President is fond of us. Someone should host a holiday party for him here. He gets to come as Santa Claus and give us a big check to make up for some of the federal jobs we've been losing...

Cadigan wasn't the only one from the Duke City hanging in the White House complex this week:

ABQ Mayor Richard Berry attended a summit at the White House with Mayors from around the country to look at strategies for competitiveness in manufacturing in our nation’s cities. “This summit is an opportunity to begin a new level of dialogue and collaboration at the national level. . .which can be a catalyst for creating businesses on a local level,” Mayor Berry said.

Good for you, RJ. But next time you're in DC, could you ask the Feds for a couple hundred million so we could do that rebuild of the Paseo del Norte/I-25 interchange the right way?


He's back and you have to wonder if former ABQ Dem state Senate powerhouse Manny Aragon will again try to play in New Mexico La Politica.

Aragon was released to a halfway house from a Colorado federal prison Thursday where he served 4 1/2 years on a corruption charge involving the construction of ABQ's metro court. Aragon is on a federal home confinement program which means he is generally restricted to his ABQ SOuth Valley home

A close friend of Aragon, 66, told us that "Manny is at peace with himself." Another told us that the one time Democratic powerhouse has been working on a book.

And then there were our Alligators, always ready to find the humor in all things political. One of them wisecracked:

"Manny Aragon for Governor--Because I've already been to prison"

Another opined:

"Manny's out so now they can use his cell for the ABQ Downs bid riggers."

And another:

"Hey, Manny, Kiki's leaving the House. You still live in that district?"

Well, we don't see Manny running again for public office, but we also don't see him being able to keep away from playing the game. Stay tuned...


It;s getting rougher and rougher for our Governor and her relationship with the media. There was the explosive National Journal article about her and her political adviser that dominated the blogging of the past week and now there's this additional headache for the Fourth and Fifth Floors:

The Associated Press filed lawsuits against Gov. Susana Martinez and administration agencies for refusing to release records about her work and travel schedules, cell phone calls and expenses of the security officers who travel with the governor.

The lawsuits alleging violations of the Inspection of Public Records Act are the latest by media and watchdog groups against Martinez, who has promoted herself as a strong advocate of a transparent government.

Susana started her term promising a new transparency, but the media is seeing mostly a black curtain.


One of our blogs this week was our analysis that Mayor Berry's legacy is going to be largely defined by how the troubles at his police department are finally resolved. We noted his administration is threatened with millions in possible lawsuit settlements because of police shootings--perhaps including the one that happened on his inauguration day last Sunday and now joins the likely list of lawsuits:

Interim Chief Allen Banks said during a press conference that the man APD officers shot after an domestic disturbance call on Sunday didn’t have a gun. According to Banks, the suspect had only a metal brake pad or a knife which he pointed at officers to simulate a gun. Banks also said suspect Shaine Sherrill had threatened suicide on Thanksgiving and had said he wanted police to shoot him during a domestic violence incident in April 2012.

It's hard to second guess our cops in the street, but that doesn't mean the trial lawyers won't. And by the way, Banks must be hoping for a lot better run of news as he works to become permanent chief.

And what's the status of that US Justice Department civil rights investigation of APD? Don't ABQ taxpayers deserve an update?


Ten lashes with a wet noodle for your blogger and the state legislator--a Senior Alligator--who told us that an IPRA records request by state Senator Howie Morales for any communications between Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey and 14 state agencies did not include the Governors office. Morales, a Dem candidate for Governor, says his request does indeed include any such communications.

We pulled the story down from our Thursday blog, administered the ten lashes with the wet noodle to the Senior Alligator and also put them on probation. That means. among other things, he gets no chicharrones or posole over the Christmas holidays. Hey, you make a mistake like that around here and you pay...

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

On The Media Beat; Contrast In Coverage Of Martinez Administration Examined In Wake Of National Journal Article, Plus: Big Bill's Christmas Gift 

Let's head out to the media beat this brisk New Mexico Thursday....

The contrast in media coverage of the Martinez administration as we are perch on the doorstep of Campaign '14 was driven home this week.

The Santa Fe New Mexican came with a report on that early battle between State Senator and Dem Guv hopeful Howie Morales and Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey. The lead read like this:

Two gubernatorial candidates are using the state Inspection of Public Records Act to bludgeon each other. Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City, a Democrat running for governor, and Gov. Martinez’s political consultant, Jay McCleskey, have filed formal public records requests seeking each other’s emails and other public information.

A McCleskey/Martinez political operative has already attacked the New Mexican for alleged bias in its early campaign coverage, but it's not an opinion that we're hearing shared by objective observers.

Longtime journalist Sherry Robinson writing for the New Mexico News Service also surfaced with some follow-up to that explosive National Journal portrayal of McCleskey and Martinez. Here's her take as seen in the Carlsbad Current Argus and other papers:

My Way or the Highway shouldn't be confused with leadership. Even the governor's friends wonder why she keeps McCleskey so close, and her enemies wonder who's running the show. Her male spokesmen have called the questioning sexist. As a card-carrying feminist, I can assure you it's not sexist. Former Gov. Bill Richardson, the man Martinez loves to hate, had no such person around. Neither did Gary Johnson or Bruce King. Martinez has angrily responded that, of course, she's in the driver's seat. That's the heart of the matter. The very fact that she has to reassure the public that she's in charge tells us there are doubts. It's not a problem a female leader wants to have. A question I've had all along is, who is Susana Martinez? What we see is the Eliza Doolittle created by McCleskey, who takes credit for discovering her. Can we meet the real Susana Martinez?

We do differ with Sherry's assertion that the power and control McCleskey has exercised over the administration is well-known. Up until now it has been only well-known among the political community. The only in-depth coverage it has received is on this blog and some references in the Santa Fe Reporter. The public at large has been in the dark. But that's now changing.

There has been no electronic media coverage of the relationship outlined in the National Journal and only sparse mention of it in the newspapers. We can think of only one story from the ABQ Journal  that examined the issue in the past three years. That's the one in which private political consultant McCleskey was dubbed "The Fifth Floor." But there was no follow-up in the coming years as to what that meant in terms of state policy and/or official government actions.


And about the ABQ Journal. While the New Mexican and columnist Robinson were keying off that National Journal piece and reaction to it, the Journal was reporting:

Gov. Martinez and her recent partnership with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was featured on the cover of a Republican insider magazine that touted the pair as “role models” for the GOP to win over Hispanic voters. That conclusion was featured in the “Ripon Forum,” a quarterly magazine of the Washington-based Ripon Society. The group is directed by an advisory board that includes about 60 current Republican members of Congress.

A "Republican insider magazine" is showcased, but nothing more on the National Journal piece?

Because of coverage like that the Journal has been subjected to increasing criticism among the political classes who believe Martinez is being sheltered and protected by the Journal. This blog reader is an example, He gave us a copy of a letter he sent to the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters:

Is there any chance you can free some staff to do a little research on a state example of the impact of media bias and blackout? Please see Daniel Libit's story in the National Journal. Very little meaningful coverage of this has been present in the primary New Mexico newspaper or from the three network news stations. The only consistent source of information about this element of the state's gubernatorial administration has been on the blog NM Politics with Joe Monahan.

. . . At a time when a very poor and economically challenged state needs vision and leadership, we face eight years of "win at all costs" partisanship that serves only those with influence, power, and wealth.


Big Bill is in ABQ for a rare appearance. He's promoting his new book--"How To Sweet-Talk A Shark: Strategies and Stories From A Master Negotiator."

He will be at Bookworks in ABQ's North Valley at 7 p.m. tonight.

Bill's book will make a good Xmas gift for his fans and a handy dartboard for his foes.

As for Bill's Christmas, he's already received his gift. It was that National Journal piece unmasking his rival Susana Martinez. We're sure he's giving many thanks to Santa Claus for that one.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

An Outsider Or Insider As New APD Chief? Plus: How Berry Can Make APD Better In His 2nd Term, And: Guv. Martinez Sexism Charge Over National Article Draws Reaction  

Mayor Berry's second term opened with the wrong kind of bang--another police shooting that left a suspect in critical condition.

Berry will soon have to decide whether the culture at APD is so damaged that it merits bringing in an outsider as the new police chief to replace Ray Schultz, but City Hall watchers say there are signs that Berry is leaning toward naming interim Chief Allen Banks--a 21 year member of APD--as the permanent chief.

Readers like Richard Flores want Berry to make a break with the past:

Although Allen Banks appears to be one of the "nice guys" at APD, and although he handled the recent shooting spree admirably, we should not forget that he is and has been part of the APD management team that has failed to effectively address internally the rash of police shootings we have witnessed, and will potentially pay for (with our hard earned tax dollars) as the courts continue to litigate lawsuits brought against the city. 

The mayor has hired a national search firm to recruit candidates to lead the troubled department which is under investigation for possible civil rights violations over the many police shootings--fatal and otherwise--that have plagued the department.

But Berry is getting lobbied by the African-American community to name Banks as the first African- American APD chief.

(We said in a first blog draft Tuesday that a Sunday police shooting had taken place a day after Berry was sworn in for his second term. Actually, it happened the same day.)


We asked retired APD Seargent Dan Klein, who for a number of years has been watching APD matters for us, to come with his top recommendations for the mayor to have a better police department than he had in his first term:

 First, sign the order bringing back the veteran officer retention bonus. This will stop around 20 or more retirements slated for December 31. Second, do away with the college requirement, or amend it to allow another path for applicants. Allow a 25 year old with a solid work history and no debt to apply with APD. APD is looking for maturity and with age comes maturity. Amend the college requirement now.  Third, work something out with the APOA (union). If Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry can get a 22% raise we should be able to work with the APOA. 

Fourth, hold the command staff at APD accountable for the actions of APD. Look at the news reports and the lawsuits from the last few years. Clearly, something is wrong with the culture at APD and Mayor Berry needs to ditch the nice guy image and start playing hardball with people at APD who think adultery is just “nature at play” and crime scene security applies to everyone but them. Hold the command staff accountable..

Klein has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.


Push back now on Governor Martinez's assertion that the National Journal piece on her and political adviser Jay McCleskey was sexist and racist.

Democrat Duffy Rodriguez who worked for Martinez in the Dept. of Finance and Administration penned an op-ed for the ABQ Journal supporting the argument, but reader and Democrat Theresa Trujeque says the Governor needs to look at her own actions before leveling such charges:

As a Hispanic woman, I find it incredulous that Governor Martinez is saying that the article smacks of racism and sexism. Let me see, was it not Governor Martinez, the first female Governor of New Mexico who abolished the Commission on the Status of Women? That office helped low-income Hispanic women find good paying jobs and offered them the training to go out in the workforce. 

 Also, isn't she the Hispanic Governor who wants to abolish driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants? Was it not the Secretary of State--getting orders from the Governor's office--who claimed that the state voter file was full of those same illegal immigrants? They may not have said illegal immigrants but that was what they implied. 

 So racism and sexism? I think not. She needs to look at her actions before she starts laying those claims on others.

The Guv's office also called the National Journal article "a tabloid piece," to which we responded that the National Journal is not the National Enquirer. And a reader chimes in:

Joe, About your reference to the National Enquirer. Remember, it was the Enquirer that broke the love child scandal  about would-be President John Edwards. And long before that they broke the news of  the scandal about Gary Hart's extra martial affairs--another would-be president. Not bad for a tabloid. 

Not bad at all.

Reader Jeff Varela gets the final word on all this:

Does Duffy really think that we believe that Gov. Martinez was the creator of "the historic and complicated tax bill" passed in the 2013 legislative session? She also draws comparisons with President Obama and his use of political advisers. Please, Martinez is not on that stage yet! And if Jay McCleskey is "smart, honest, and provides invaluable insight" then he shouldn't need a government bureaucrat like Duffy Rodriguez to defend his prized pupil, Governor Martinez.


It's not sexism the state's chief executive has to worry about. It is the incessant drumbeat of sour economic news that trails her wherever she goes. The latest:

According to CoreLogic, New Mexico was the only state to show a decline in home prices from October 2012 through October 2013. The firm’s Home Price Index said including distressed sales, New Mexico home prices fell 0.5 percent. Excluding distressed sales, the state’s home prices rose 3.1 percent. Nationally, the average home price increased 12.5 percent including distressed sales, and was up 11 percent excluding distressed sales.

Not much about economics is simple, but some things are. Decent paying jobs create demand for houses. Demand for houses increases prices.

You don't need a degree from the John Arthur Smith Deming School of Economics to know that.


Tourism Sec. Jacobson
The state may be looking unattractive to those seeking to move in here and set up businesses, but the Tourism Department says it is still attractive for those wanting a quick visit. The problem? Not many of those visitors want to come back a second time:

Just under 30 percent of New Mexico visitors last year said they intended to return. That’s compared with nearly 48 percent of tourists in Colorado, Arizona and Utah who say they intend to return to those states. These figures are based on surveys by Longwoods International. Two major sets of New Mexico tourists--young people and people from California--have low rates of “intend to return.”

We and others banged the table to get an increase in the state tourism advertising budget. We got it and it appears to have worked some, but we still lag neighboring states.

If an examination of the tourism department's numbers don't call into question their accuracy, tourism secretary Jacobson would seem in fairly good shape to win another increase in the state advertising budget. The hundreds of small businesses and their employees that depend on visitors are watching closely.

Meanwhile, what can the state do to assist in providing a better tourist experience so out-of-state visitors so they will want a second round of enchantment?

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Berry's Second Term Begins On Ominous Note; Legal Fallout From Police Shootings Lurks, Plus: Dems Now Control ABQ Council, And: Our Stagnant Economy; We're On The Story 

Berry & interim APD CHief Banks (Journal)
ABQ Mayor Berry's second term was ushered in on an ominous note. On the same day as his December 1 inauguration ABQ police shot and fatally wounded a suspect, bringing to the fore the issue that could haunt Berry in the years ahead and become an obstacle to his political ambitions--costly lawsuits over police shootings.

The Berry police department was so plagued with fatal police shootings the US Department Justice came to town to investigate. It is still investigating. ABQ police have been involved in nearly three dozen officer involved shootings--many of them fatal--since Berry took office in December 2009.

We have had a pause in the shootings--most of which took place in Berry's first two years in office--and the shooting this weekend involved a suspect police say has a criminal record--as did nearly all the other shootings. That helped keep the public in Berry's corner as he sought and won re-election in October.

But Republican Berry got a big red flag when in May an ABQ jury awarded $10 million in damages to the family of an Iraq war veteran who was shot and killed during a 2010 stand off.

How many lawsuits are ultimately filed and their final cost will be a lasting legacy of this Mayor.


Speaking of legacies, now that the Democrats have taken control of the ABQ City Council with a 5 to 4 majority, don't expect Berry's "ABQ: The Plan" to advance much. That's the word from a number of city councilors. The plan--never effectively branded for the public--has had lukewarm support even from Republican councilors.

At Monday night's council meeting Democrat Ken Sanchez was elected the council's president for the coming year, just as our City Hall Alligators predicted he would be. GOP Councilor Dan Lewis was named head of the budget committee. Neither councilor is especially close to Mayor Berry and both are eyeing mayoral runs in 2017. That should make things a bit more interesting than they have been.

As for that ongoing debate over the controversial roundabout proposed for the intersection of Rio Grande and Candelaria in ABQ's NW Valley, the Journal's Dan McKay reported from the council meeting:

The proposal to halt the roundabout at Rio Grande/Candelaria failed on 7-2 vote. So its future is unclear, but the council is not halting the project.

The final decision now appears to be in the hands of North Valley Dem City Councilor Ike Benton who has been wishy-washy on where he stands. But now it's time for him to stand up.


B Wayne Hughes Jr.
The fallout from the National Journal expose of Governor Martinez and her political adviser Jay McCleksey continues. It's like ash that slowly drifts from the skies after an explosion.

One of Martinez's more fervent financial backers took to his Twitter account to note his concern over the piece that showed McCleksey as a "shadow Governor" and Martinez his willing pawn.

B. Wayne Hughes, Jr. (@BWayneHughesJr)
Does my friend @GovMartinez of New Mexico have political #Rasputin on her shoulder? 

Hughes, whose father became a billionaire from his company Public Storage, has been one of Susana's biggest donors, contributing $100,000 to her campaign in the 2010 cycle. This year he has donated $10,400 to her 2014 re-election campaign, the maximum allowed under the state's new campaign contribution limits.

Martinez has been leaving the state regularly to raise millions for her '14 campaign. We know the National Journal piece has shaken her national political status. Will it knick her in the finance department? 

By the way, the Rasputin Hughes tweeted about is an example of one of history's more notorious political advisers. 


The five Democratic candidates for Governor have been given an opening by that National Journal piece but beyond showing that there is a shadow government, they will have to demonstrate that it is harming the state economically and linking it to the ceaseless stream of poor state economic news:

New Mexico’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.6 percent in October and the state added 1,800 jobs in the 12 months that ended Oct. 31, but the state’s civilian labor force shrank by 1.8 percent in the past 12 months, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The state’s civilian labor force--those people looking for jobs--decreased by 16,400 from October 2012, according to the BLS. . . .At the end of October, the state’s civilian labor force totaled 920,700 compared to 937,100 in October 2012. From September to October, the state’s civilian labor force fell by 3,900, the BLS said. And over the month, the state lost 400 jobs.

In other words, a considerable number of people continue to give up on finding work here or leave the state to find it. A retired UNM professor peels the onion on this:

New Mexico saw an out-migration of residents in 2012 when 15,228 more people moved out of the state than moved into it, according to the US census. Retired University of New Mexico Professor Allen Parkman said the state’s shrinking labor force could be due in part to less educated males deciding to stop looking for work. “The demands of the marketplace have gone up and many guys don’t have the skills and they are unwilling to grovel for the lower-end jobs,” Parkman said.

That's part of it. Other parts include a stagnant economy that is bad across-the-board, preventing the formation of small businesses that provide the bulk of the jobs in the private sector. Then there's the unattractiveness of the state to outsiders because of the poor reputation of the schools and the social conditions crisis that is encompassing an ever growing swath of the state's population.


Like we said, the bad economic news since Martinez took office has been pretty much ceaseless. Not that all the blame can be laid at her doorstep, but this is politics and there's a campaign right around the corner. The news:

New Mexico has the worst private-sector economy in the nation when it comes to the percentage of private sector jobs in its workforce, according to a study released by George Mason University. According to the study, 68.1 percent of New Mexico’s jobs were “real private sector” jobs-- that is, private sector employment that isn’t supported by the federal government. Public sector and federal contract jobs totaled 31.9 percent of the state’s economy, compared to the national average of 19.2 percent, according to the study by GMU’s Mercatus Center.

This cuts both ways. Remember, all those government contractors and employees make pretty good money. The bad news we are losing some of them because of Federal cutbacks.. . . .

The Martinez corporate tax cut package aimed at attracting private sector jobs here took effect in July. The Guv announced Monday that General Dynamics will add 200 jobs to its support center (call center) in Las Cruces and her administration credited the corporate tax cut. Be interesting to see the evidence for that claim. Meanwhile, still on the econ beat, Senate Dems say:

At the the Legislative Jobs Council meeting Monday, legislators learned that a projected 160,000 jobs must be created within the next 10 years to return New Mexico to its previous economic state before the 2007 national recession. 


Former ABQ GOP State Representative Conrad James--as expected--announced he will try next year to get back the NE Heights seat he held for one term and that he lost to Dem Elizabeth "Liz" Thomson in 2012. James has since been appointed to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. R's say that serving on the Regents and in the legislature is no problem, but we could be hearing more about it in the days ahead. James was the first African-American Republican elected to a House seat from Bernalillo County. . . 

We erred Monday when we said that the father of the late ABQ broadcaster Art Ortega was a former US Attorney for New Mexico. Reader Mark Bralley says we had Arturo Ortega--Art's father--confused with Victor Ortega--who was a US attorney here in the 1970's. Art Ortega passed away on Thanksgiving Day.

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Guv's Office Blasts Tough National Journal Article On Her And McCleskey As "Tabloid"; Accuses Publication Of Being "Sexist" And Racist; We Take A Deeper Look, Plus: Fight On The Right; Martinez Decision To Steer Clear Of ABQ Abortion Election Is Defended 

What we and many of our readers have described as "breakthrough" reporting from the National Journal on the Martinez administration is being dismissed by the Governor's office as nothing more than "a tabloid piece. . . .an effort to push the offensive and sexist narrative that the first Hispanic female Governor in the country can't think for herself."

Let's take a deeper look.....

Well, the National Journal is not the National Enquirer. The lengthy piece describing the inordinate power Martinez has ceded to her political adviser Jay McCleskey and raising questions about how he may have misused that power is going to be the starting point for the national media if and when Martinez attempts to become a serious national political player--not just a symbol who raises millions of dollars because of her status of being the first Hispanic female Governor.

She may believe the revealing 5,400 word article is "tabloid" but one supposes Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle--other would-be vice-presidents who were also called to account--had similar feelings about similar articles about them.

No doubt the Guv was hoping that the mostly friendly local media would keep the National Journal article under wraps, but those days are gone.

The piece went viral on the net in New Mexico and in political circles around the nation, forcing the Martinez-supportive ABQ Journal to take a look. However,  it did not do so in a news story--but in an opinion column, sending the signal that for the local paper there wasn't any hard news in the piece.

In dismissing the notion that there was no news here, the paper's columnist said that when last year the paper asked Martinez about McCleskey's power "she bristled at the notion that he is running the state."


The difference between the National Journal and the ABQ Journal is that the DC-based publication did not take Martinez's denial of McCleskey's shadow governor status at face value. They investigated and came up with new information, including about possible bid-rigging on the controversial Downs at ABQ racino lease.

The article also noted how most, if not all. of the Governor's political hires are close associates of McCleskey's and how McCleskey was said by a former Martinez fund-raiser to have set up shop in a small room right next to Susana's office. And there was much, much more--including new campaign finance information that raised numerous questions.

For the first time the mainstream media--via the National Journal--seriously raised the question of whether a private political operative is basically running the executive branch of the New Mexican government and backed it up by with evidence warranting continued investigation and journalistic inquiry.

As for that implied diss by the ABQ Journal that the National Journal used anonymous sources, what are they supposed to do when the political community ripples with fear at the mention of McCleskey's name because they justifiably fear retribution?

Also, the author of the article, Daniel Libit, pushed back against the Governor's office which claimed that "the former top aide" quoted four times for the story was Jamie Estrada, the short-lived campaign manager for Susana who has been indicted on felony charges for intercepting emails from Martinez's campaign account. Libit says Estrada was not the top aide quoted.

The last thing the ABQ Journal needs to do, as one of our Legal Beagles put it, is to "act like a sore loser."

How many sources does the Journal suspect it can get to go on the record if  it took the bold path and asked controversial questions about McCleskey and a shadow government? Will they try?

In this day and age no one entity controls the flow of information. The full story will continue to come out--perhaps slower around here--but come out it will.


It was interesting to note the response of the Governor's campaign to the request by Dem Guv hopeful and state Senator Howie Morales for any and all emails and any other communications McCleskey has had with 14 state agencies and divisions.

Morales has filed that request under the Inspection of Public Records (IPRA). The Guv's campaign spokesman Danny Diaz had this retort:

The governor's office has been crystal clear that Jay McCleskey is an important member of the political team, is not paid with tax dollars and never had an office in the Roundhouse,"

But what of McCleskey's influence on official government policy? How engaged is the "political team" in that? Are there any emails or other communications from Jay to government agencies, Danny?

Since you and your boss have pledged the most transparent administration ever, why not just disclose any emails or other communications, or are there none? Can you be "crystal clear" about that?

It's not as if McCleskey is a government employee subject to transparency. His consulting firm can have any number of clients the public doesn't know about. Do they get a seat at the table of government by virtue of being clients of the "Shadow Governor?" That's a question not an accusation, one that begs for further examination.

It could be many months before Morales' IPRA request gets any attention, if history is any guide.


It's annoying to see the Governor's spokesman assert that tough and fair reporting on the administration from a respected national publication without any apparent axe to grind is driven by sexism and racism and intentionally designed to make her look as though she can't think for herself.

The Governor and McCleskey have a deeply disturbing habit of  dismissing journalists, bloggers or nearly anyone (i.e. school teachers, legislators) who disagree with them as being driven by sinister motives and then attempting to discredit them by attacking their character and motives. Nixonian? You decide.

They may be biting off more than they can chew when they dish their dirt in DC to national media, but one supposes with the millions of dollars they have stashed away in their campaign accounts, a certain arrogance and invincibility surrounds their cocoon (as well as some fear).

If the Governor seriously believes she is a victim of sexism (and racism) and as a result is being wrongfully portrayed as some kind of airhead, why doesn't she stand for critical, no-holds-barred interviews? For example, why not sit down and show her stuff in a statewide TV interview with "New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan." Or NBC"s "Meet the Press" for that matter.

The problem is this Governor has wanted to pose as a national political figure, raise millions of dollars for herself and her party but not pay the price of scrutiny. Instead she deflects comprehensive reporting and questioning by suiting up in the convenient armor of sexism and racism.

That does put an Anglo dominated media in a blatantly unfair position but if the Governor thinks it is going to hold the dogs at bay, she's wrong.

Perhaps in response to her charges the national media will continue to turn their sights on McCleskey--who is neither Hispanic or female--but who does appear to be the quasi-Governor.


McCleskey trotted out former state deputy finance director Duffy Rodriguez--a Democrat--who worked for the Martinez administration--to try to debunk the reports that he is essentially running the executive branch. In an ABQ Journal op-ed piece, Rodriguez claims that other governors and presidents have had advisers akin to McCleksey. Yes, they have had advisers with lots of muscles--but in just about all the cases they are on the government payroll and subjected to transparency requirements. Think Dave Contarino, chief of staff and political adviser to Governor Richardson.

Then there was Duffy telling us that State Senator John Arthur Smith--one of the Senate's "Martinez Democrats" will vouch for Susana's intellectual agility on tax policy. As one of our readers put it, "I find it ironic that Duffy--who says Susana's critics are not giving her enough credit (because Duffy thinks Susana is strong and independent of McCleskey) feels the need to use a man to support her claims."

Rodriguez pointed to the disgruntled sources as guilty of sexism--not at the National Journal--which the Governor's office included in their indictment.

Political insiders are not unaware of Duffy's dancing with Jay and the gang. She left the administration a year ago. Here's some of what was reported at the time:

. . . .She also knew how to exercise her influence. Last November, Rodriguez sent an email from her Yahoo account to the private email accounts of Keith Gardner, the governor’s chief of staff, and Jay McCleskey, the governor’s political adviser, who is not a government employee. The email made references to New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera and an “Abbey”—most likely Legislative Finance Committee Director David Abbey. “She hates me but that’s OK,” Rodriguez wrote of Skandera. “I made it clear my whole end game was to protect the Governor on all this kind of stuff and let the Governor propose what she wants and the way she wants and not have it dictated by Abbey et. al.”

So Duffy claims in a public opinion piece that Jay is just a run-of-the-mill adviser, yet she plays footsie with him about government policy on back channel email accounts?

 Duffy, like my friend Alley the Alligator says, "We heard you the first time."


We noted last week the concern expressed by ABQ Pastor Dewey Moede about Governor Martinez's decision not to take a public stand on the recent ABQ election calling for a ban on late-term abortions. That anti-abortion referendum failed.

Moede's criticism of Martinez is answered by Martinez supporter and blog reader Kimothy Sparks:

Bashing Governor Martinez for not sticking her neck out in support of the ABQ abortion ban? Really? We anti-abortion supporters were (vastly) outspent and you want her to stick her political neck out on an issue, where the Bible thumpers refused to divert their “tithes and offerings” toward saving unborn human life?

. . . .I applaud Gov. Martinez for recognizing the political quagmire that abortion and same-sex marriage is and avoiding them like leprosy. By doing so, she may have extended her service as Governor of NM for four more years and maybe a shot at defeating such diabolical liberals as Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich.


Art Ortega loved radio and Albuquerque. We're not sure in what order because he did a great deal for both. His passing as the result of a heart attack Thanksgiving morning had both newcomers and old-timers coming out of  the woodwork to praise his lifelong dedication to broadcasting and his community.

Retired talk radio pioneer Mike Santullo, who worked with Ortega at KKOB-AM radio, said: "Art was the consummate radio professional. He was "old school" radio and a guy who literally lived and breathed radio. He was involved in every aspect of the business from air talent to advertising to programming."

Radio talker Jim Villanucci, a top ABQ talent who left KKOB this year for Oregon, remarked:

"He was a great mentor, he got me out of some tough spots. One of the funniest people I ever knew. A huge heart and one of the first people to call me when I was going through a tough time. 

Art held forth at 50,000 watt 770 KKOB-AM when that station was the unquestioned radio powerhouse. He was well-known in the political community for handling the station's political ads. He worked along side his wife Lynda, who also has had a long radio career. Ortega's father--Arturo Ortega-- -was a founder of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Art Ortega was 67. Services are pending, with updated information here.


It's back/ The roaring controversy over the proposed roundabout for the intersection of Rio Grande and Candelaria NW is taken up yet again tonight by the ABQ city council. This is the new council, however, and one now controlled by Dems, not R's. Area resident, roundabout opponent and journalist Dan Vukelich says:

The Rio Grande roundabout debacle in my neighborhood is back before the City Council, possibly for the last time before asphalt starts being torn up to build it. The rationale is as specious as it was months ago. Many in the news media have seen the whole roundabout story as a pissing match among the members of the entitled North Valley elite. Maybe that's true, but it spells bad news ahead for how we justify spending taxpayer dollars. Sadly, this may be enough to drive me back into news and covering politics.

Come on back in, Dan. The water's fine...


A reader writes:

Joe, The altered audit report received by State Auditor Hector Balderas came from the New Mexico Human Services Department, not the federal "Health and Human Services Department" as you stated in your blog. The two agencies are often confused.

Yes, we did confuse them and have corrected the error. Also, we misspelled Pastor Dewey Moede's last name on the Friday blog. That has also been corrected.

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