Monday, January 27, 2014

A Poll On Pot, The Downs Smell Test And The Readers Write Of Sanchez, Smith And The Blog  

Would legalizing marijuana go over with New Mexico voters as it did in neighboring Colorado? According to a poll paid for by ABQ Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino a vote on the matter could be very close. The poll of likely voters taken this month says 46% would vote yes for legalization and 45% would vote no. The full poll is here.

Whether New Mexicans will actually get to vote on the issue is iffy. A constitutional amendment has been introduced in the Legislature that if approved would place the pot question on the November ballot, but it has stiff opposition from the Guv.

Ortiz y Pino is sponsoring a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide of they wish to legalize marijuana. It would have to be approved by both the House and Senate to be places on the November ballot. the Governor's signature is not required.

The poll also says when voters were told that the state could raise tax revenue from legalization and that the agricultural benefits could be substantial for the production of hemp, the number changed to 70% in favor of the amendment.

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the poll was commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance.


Like marijuana wafting over a packed concert hall, the controversial lease awarded the ABQ Downs racino by the Martinez administration also has a distinctive smell. And Republican and former State Board of Finance member Tom Tinnin--who resigned his post in protest over the 25 year racino lease--continues to say the deal does not pass the smell test. From his an op-ed piece:

The Journal’s revelation of the texts sent by {Martinez political adviser Jay} McCleskey in his role as Martinez’s representative confirmed for me that from its very inception, the racino deal with the Downs did not pass the smell test. Never have I ever seen a governor’s adviser--let alone one that isn’t even a state employee--become so inappropriately involved with the activities of state government. . . As New Mexicans, we should demand this behavior stop immediately.

The racino lease has been the subject of an FBI investigation but where that probe stands is unknown.


Readers had much to say about our Friday blog that covered Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez's vigorous defense of conservative Dem Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith.

Sanchez took to the Senate floor to criticize NM Dem Party Chairman Bregman for saying Smith should become a a Republican if the doesn't allow his committee to vote on a constitutional amendment that would ask voters if they want to direct funds from the state's Permanent Fund to early childhood development.The leader also scored this blog for its criticism of Smith and we pushed back.

To the mailbag:

Longtime ABQ attorney and veteran Dem Party activist Bob McNeill writes:

My compliments for your remarks regarding Bregman's criticism of Sen. John Arthur Smith's blocking of a vote on the early childhood amendment, and the Sen. Sanchez rebuttal. . . At some point, the "big tent" should remind those inside the tent what a party supposedly stands for, lest the party not stand for anything. Legislative protocol and legislator friendships are important, but they should not trump fundamental party principles. New Mexico must start thinking out of the box if we want to move this state forward and progress. It is obviously far past the time for progressive change if we are not to continue to rank last in children's well being and to languish economically. These conditions are shameful and inexcusable, and will require bold policy reform and years to change.

Reader Dan Klein opined:

Joe, You brought the thunder! We need to clean out the Roundhouse and governor's office. That won't happen, New Mexicans will continue to vote in the same old politicians, never holding them accountable. Oops, there is that word again--accountability. Who is accountable for our 50th ranking in child welfare? I guess we all are.

Laura Stokes of Corrales came with this:

Joe, Good for you for pointing out our real Democratic Party loyalties, those which focus on improving the lives of New Mexicans. And good for Sam Bregman for doing the same. It's time for Dems to stand up for our values and if they conflict with the leadership's priorities, we need to remind those in power that we do have the right as members of the Democratic Party to express our disagreements and demand change for the betterment of our state and our party.  I applaud the Majority Leader's support for early childhood education but not for defending the biggest obstructionist to progress in this state. The arrogance on the part of some party leaders that they know better than the rest of us what is best for NM is wearing thin and losing credibility given the state of our state. 

Reader Betty Hileman says:

Joe, the fact is we turn to your blog to know what is really happening and it is a joy to not have you “owned” like our TV and radio reporting is. Thanks for you and your guts.

Reader Barbara Grothus writes:

Thank you for your excellent post. Really good to call out the privileged. Kudos, truly.


Sen. Smith & Bregman
Reader Stephanie DuBois writes:

Joe, it sounds to me like Senator Sanchez doesn't have much respect for those of us who have to live with the decisions they make. . .When he refers to the Senate as a family, I think it is more like a private club that has a secret password . . .I wasn't aware we welcomed Democrats that would vote with the opposition on major issues. 

Do Republicans go out of their way to vote on major issues with Democrats? I remember Roswell Republican Rep. Earlene Roberts. She voted with the Dems because she owed them a vote. She already knew the bill was not going to pass. The Republicans got rid of her with a primary opponent. . .When you try to act like a FDR Democrat you get punished for it. There is absolutely something wrong in a state that is 100 years old and is still as poor as the day it was admitted to the union. Maybe we should have stayed a territory.

Reader Mick frets that all the drama may have already been seen for this 30 day legislative session:

Joe, the pot is supposed to simmer before you turn up the heat to make it boil. Let's not put all the drama at the beginning. There might not be anything left for the last few days. Well, maybe not much.
Gotta' love the system.

Reader Darla Aiken comes with a defense of one Dem State Rep. who often sides with the GOP:

Joe, It has become more apparent every day that the Democratic Party is splintering.  More and more people have chosen to register as independents.  One thing that intrigues me is why so many of our own Democrats are now calling our elected officials Republicans. Most recently Sen. John Arthur Smith has been called a Republican because of his conservative beliefs. Former Senator Tim Eichenberg (running for Treasurer) was blasted in an email by opponent John Wertheim earlier this month. And of course maverick Democratic Rep. Sandra Jeff has been often chastised and named as a Republican for not voting along party lines. All of theses elected officials have served New Mexico well. Representative Jeff will most likely be the deciding vote on many House issues. I only hope her colleagues can respect her vote and not throw her to the wolves as they have done in the past. . . 


Reader Tony Louderbough writes:

Thank you for your reporting and blogging. You're getting heat from some very powerful folks but most of us deeply appreciate your work. Please keep it up... make that... pour it on.

Another reader writes in agreement with Bregman's criticism of Senator Smith:

Telling lawmakers how to vote is why we are a democracy. If the Democrats want John Arthur's leadership--they should elect John Arthur majority leader.

Reader Robert  Palacioz writes:

Joe, Michael Sanchez and John Arthur are in denial about our situation in New Mexico. Denial as defined "is the refusal to acknowledge the existence or severity of unpleasant external realities or internal thoughts and feelings. Denial can also be exhibited on a large scale-among groups, cultures, or even nations." 

Yes, political parties can and do function in denial but "we" the informed public do not have to participate in the denial that "everything is "OK" in New Mexico.

From Washington, DC a reader writes:

I would like to point out that a vote on the early childhood amendment by a member of Senator Smith's finance committee is not a vote to raid the Permanent Fund. Committee members would be voting to either allow or not allow the voters to decide. If Sen. Smith believes the voters were smart enough to put him in office, then why doesn't he think the voters are smart enough to decide this issue?

From the Roundhouse, this email:

I must say Joe, your Friday blog was your best ever. My friend says "His hair was on fire!" Perhaps the reason leadership in the House and Senate try to inculcate the idea of a "family" is so the "Daddies" can control the children; letting them know when their votes are pleasing, and when not, and what their punishment or reward will be. Nobody wants to be the black sheep. I couldn't stop talking about your blog. Thank you!

Thanks for the comments today.

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