Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Mexico History At The White House; Wide Smiles Greet President Obama Proclaiming New National Monument, Plus: Ad Watch; Fact-Checking Susana, And: Action On The Campaign Trail  

A reader from Las Cruces writes:

As President Teddy Roosevelt stated: "There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm." That is our Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area.

Roosevelt, the first environmental president, would have been pleased Wednesday when President Obama signed a proclamation establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. It will permanently protect nearly 500,000 acres. Said Obama:

The deeply creviced peaks of the Organ Mountains, named in 1682 by early European explorers for their resemblance to organ pipes, conceal numerous ancient dwellings, including La Cueva, and other caves where smoke-blackened ceilings evidence long-extinguished campfires.

The White House posted the complete proclamation here. The video of Obama announcing the new monument at the Interior Department is here.

It was a decade-long effort to get the monument and in his remarks Obama made a point of thanking former Dem Sen. Jeff Bingaman as well as Senators Udall and Heinrich.

On the pragmatic side Obama said the monument could be a major tourism boost for the Dona Ana County region.

GOP Rep. Steve Pearce was the only member of the state's five member delegation not to appear at the historic signing. He lobbied for setting aside much less acreage. As is customary, Obama used a variety of pens to sign the proclamation (we're working on who got them). When Obama finished signing the proclamation, he declared, "There we go. It's done" and the room erupted in applause.


Do you think Las Cruces area Dem State Rep. Jeff Steinborn is just a bit excited as he listens to President Obama proclaim the national monument? He looks as though he's about to come out of his seat. And after a decade of advocacy you can hardly blame him.

Meanwhile, Heinrich looks like the cat who ate the mouse. What's he thinking? "Hey,  Steve Pearce, how do you like it now?"

And if Udall smiled any wider you might think he just got re-elected. Well, ultimately the most joy in politics comes from not tearing down, but getting something done. Something important.


Even as Obama signed off on the new monument there was still spirited, if minority opposition. Fox News covered that angle.


From NM's Senators:

Senators Udall and Heinrich joined the Senate in voting unanimously to confirm Damon P. Martinez to be U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. Martinez has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 2001 and as acting U.S. Attorney since March 2014. He is highly experienced in cases concerning national security and anti-terrorism, immigration and narcotics. The senators recommended Martinez for the position of U.S. Attorney in an April 26, 2013, letter to President Obama. Martinez is an Albuquerque native and graduate of St. Pius X High School. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico. He was also a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve until 2009, when he transferred to the New Mexico National Guard. Martinez currently holds the rank of Major.

The US attorney position is a politically sensitive one, with the office erupting in scandal during the Bush years when then-GOP Senator Domenici and then-US Rep. Wilson tried to interfere in a corruption investigation of a prominent state Democrat. The Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded Domenici.


We were wondering when we would get some media fact checking of the Guv's TV ad claiming she inherited the largest deficit in state history. We debunked that claim early on and now the New Mexican reports both Dem and R lawmakers are saying the ad has it wrong:

Gov. Martinez’s advertisement tying together the state budget, a jet and schoolbooks begins with an inaccurate claim.“When I took office, we had the largest deficit in history,” says Martinez. . . in a television ad. . . Not so. State senators of both parties say New Mexico had no budget deficit, something that has been true through its 102 years of statehood. . . Until her ad this month, Martinez and her political strategists always had been careful to say that she closed “the largest structural deficit” in state history. A structural deficit is government lexicon meaning that, unless cuts are made, a budget will not be balanced. The term “structural deficit,” foreign to most taxpayers and TV viewers, did not end up in the ad. Instead, Martinez simply said she inherited a budget deficit.. . Sen. Steve Neville, R-Aztec, also said the governor’s ad about inheriting a deficit is not correct, though his criticism of it was comparatively mild. “I think I would have chosen different words,” said Neville, who also serves on the Senate Finance Committee.

The Governor's campaign produces an AP article to defend her claim that she inherited the largest "deficit" ever, but the AP does not call it a deficit. It correctly labels it a projected "shortfall" that if not addressed would then lead to deficit spending. There is a difference.

We're noticing on some political ads--including this one on the deficit with Martinez--that there are not the usual small notations citing a news or other source for the information being presented. That's dangerous trend and one that is not going to be thwarted unless the media is aggressive in its fact-checking.


Dem Guv hopeful Lawrence Rael who the Martinez campaign says lied about how long he served ABQ as its chief administrative officer, grabbed at the facet-check of the Martinez deficit spot:

“Governor Martinez got caught lying about her record,” says campaign manager Jonathan Teeters. “She can’t point to any actual accomplishments, and now even Republican State Senators are acknowledging her claims are false. She should remove her misleading ad from the air immediately.”

Alan Webber who has been heaped with scorn on the op-ed pages of the ABQ Journal came with his own op-ed, saying Martinez "changes the channel" when voters start asking about her record. . .

Farmington politicos are telling us that Rod Montoya, the former chief of staff to Lt. Governor John Sanchez, is in position to win the GOP primary for the state House seat being vacated by Tom Taylor. He is facing Karen Bayless, who has served as a legislative assistant and has deep ties in the area. . .


It all came undone when unknown Gary Smith ran in the 2012 ABQ US House primary. The latest:

. . . Smith pleaded no contest to aggravated stalking after admitting he slashed the tires on vehicles belonging to his former campaign manager and 2012 Republican primary opponent. Smith was jailed in December 2012 after a surveillance camera captured images of him puncturing tires on cars owned by Janice Arnold-Jones and her husband John Jones. After posting bond and being warned not to return to his victims’ homes, Smith was arrested again on the fourth-degree felony charges when new video caught him sitting outside of Arnold-Jones’ home on New Year's Day 2013. Before accepting the plea, Judge Stanley Whitaker asked Smith if he understood his right to a trial and told him he wouldn’t be able to appeal the case if he signed the agreement. Whitaker deferred sentencing until June 3. Smith faces up to 30 months in prison, but would receive credit for time served and could be released on probation. 

Smith never did make it on the 2012 primary ballot. His petition signatures were challenged in court and he was disqualified.

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