Monday, April 28, 2014
New Mexicans Agree: Their State Not One Of The Best To Live In, Plus: NM Is A Fine And Dandy Place To Live For Public Officials Seeking No Accountability; We Have The Details
With a long-term sour economy and a generations-old social conditions crisis that has only worsened, it's no wonder that Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico are discontented with their state's lot in life.
That's the way they see it, but for public officials looking to avoid accountability our state has been a virtual paradise. In that category we have to be far and away #1. Let's take a look:
You're the Governor's chief of staff and you go on a bender and use the state credit card for your personal expenses thereby directly violating state policy and procedures? No problem. Just shrug it off as business as usual. And don't worry about your Governor boss firing you or even disciplining you. Those words are not in her vocabulary. Besides, the rules don't apply to you. You work on the Fourth Floor but answer to the Fifth Floor.
You're the ABQ police chief and one of your officers guns down a 19 year old woman in the street. Problem? Not if you're the APD chief. When folks wonder exactly what happened, you just say repeatedly: "I don't know." No one will bother you. After all, you know best.
You say you're the former APD chief with a pay-to-play scandal over a nearly $2 million contract looking you square in the eye? Just say you didn't do it. If you're the city's chief administrative officer, just refuse to answer questions. Whose going to question you? You decide what's right and what's wrong.
You're the Governor and you're busted on leaked audio tapes calling your Dem Guv opponent a "little bitch" and one of your top campaign aides likens the House Speaker to a "fucking retard? Fugghedabout it. No apologies needed. Who's going to make you? Anyway, apologizes are for weaklings.
You're Mayor of ABQ and folks ask why during your first four years on the job you didn't take firm action over the many fatal police shootings that plagued the city and that forced the Dept. of Justice to come in here? Heck, that's child's play. Just blame most of it on your predecessor and then go back to hibernating. What do you have to fear? Hardly anyone holds you to account.
You're a former APD top cop who is brought in to oversee a "fix" for the department and insure that needed reforms are implemented. Say what? Well, if you're that ex-top cop you say it's Justice that says APD needs fixing, you dont' necessarily see it that way. After all, when you are in public power around here, you just don't sweat the small stuff. Everyone knows the public can't be trusted.
Now do you agree that we are actually lucky that we rank 46th and not 50th among the states in which people don't feel it's one of the best places to live? Yep. Thought so.
Our Alligators have speculated for months that Guv Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner may soon be headed for the exits--or another nicely padded state job. But the former Roswell state representative and tough-talker seems to have super glue on his seat.
His flagrant violation of state policy by using a state credit card for personal use--even though he defended himself by pointing out he reimbursed the state--is the latest in a long line of Gardner gaffes and worse. There was this:
Schools lobbyist alleged in a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez that Chief of Staff Keith Gardner painfully gripped her arm and yelled at her in “in an extremely threatening manner,” during the legislative session in February.
And this from leaked audio tapes in 2012:
The special session kicked my ass. I hate those fuckers. . . I hate fucking (Dem Senate President Pr0 Tem) Tim Jennings so bad right now. . . Oh god, I hate him. He’s a cocksucking son of a bitch…
And we can't forget Keith's famous declaration on leaked audio tape that he likes to use private email accounts to conduct state business "because I don't want to go to court or jail."
None of this was enough for Gov. Martinez to administer even the mildest dose of chastisement or discipline. Martinez simply does not seem to take state government very seriously. She leaves it to her political consultant to run the show and what we are seeing is the resulting chaos from that decision.
THE ACCOUNTABILITY GAME
Martinez was blasted in a Sunday front-page opinion column for refusing to apologize for the offensive comment on the leaked audio tapes from Mother Jones magazine. It was another opinion column that broke the Gardner credit card abuse. And then there was the weekend editorial that threw the towel in in APD Chief Gorden Eden.
As much as the columns were a breath of fresh air--and they were--the paper still drew criticism for not making the Gardner revelations a straight news report rather than tucked away in an opinion column. Same for the apology piece.
Why weren't these treated as straight news stories, discussing with various interested parties whether Gardner should resign or be disciplined. and whether Martinez should apologize? When will the tough questions be posed directly to the Governor and Mayor Berry by the paper? Will we get editorials directly challenging them--not just their underlings? That remains the missing ingredient.
The recent opinion columns have been adversarial, but to be true watchdogs that can impact the stonewalling, you need adversarial daily journalism. A top editor for the Journal asserts on Twitter that folks enjoy bashing the Journal but the paper is "sincere" and "trying."
It's not about bashing it's about adversarial journalism in an era when so many people of this state are falling so far behind the rest of the nation. Sincerity is not enough to chart new courses.
One of the Alligators adds:
The Journal is calling this Jay McCleskey duo of Berry and Martinez out for their amateurism. Both of them are being asked to essentially step up and act like adults. In the case of Martinez she needs to start acting like an incumbent Governor and take responsibility for her comments heard on those audio tapes. In the case of Berry, he needs to move beyond city hall insiders and local Republicans to attack this APD issue like a real big-city Mayor. What the Journal may be coming to realize is that Berry and Martinez are just not ready for prime time. They made great candidates and pawns in (political consultant) Jay McClesky's game, but they have a very hard time governing.
This is the home of New Mexico politics.
E-mail your news and comments. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author