Tuesday, June 17, 2014

APD Crisis: Legal Fees To Negotiate Reform With Justice Dept. Soar; Why Not Just Surrender? Plus: New King Campaign Manager Calls Race Against Guv "Winnable," And: Eyebrow Raiser: GOP State Rep. Deplores State Of NM Economy 

Here's something you didn't hear at last night's ABQ City Council meeting where $220,000 in legal fees was shelled out to negotiate APD reforms with the US Justice Department and where it was revealed the fees could eventually go to $500,000. A reader writes:

What if we don’t negotiate? What if the city just tells the DOJ we will do what it wants? That way we save our citizens hundreds of thousands--and perhaps $500,000--in a no bid negotiating contract. Would the citizens end up saving money? I think so.

It's worth asking as we lose our collective shirts from all the lawsuits resulting from over two dozen police shootings since 2010 (Councilors Klarissa Pena, Dan Lewis and Rey Garduno voted against the contract).

It is our city and its political leadership--Mayor Berry and the City Council--that lost control of APD and plunged us into crisis. Why were they not "negotiating" with APD as the crisis unfolded over a period of years, instead of playing Ostrich and hiding their heads in the sands of Tingley Beach?

It can be easily argued that the time to negotiate has long passed and now the time for surrender is here--for the sake of the taxpaying public.

Why not simply let Justice list all the reforms it sees as necessary and have the city council vote on whether to approve them?  No burdensome legal fees and no desperate efforts to hold on to the infected APD culture. A clean sweep. This outside-the-box thinking could even give ABQ an argument for getting federal dollars to help implement expensive Justice ordered reforms.


Can Gary King's new campaign manager--a Louisiana native--replicate the success of James Carville, the most famous political consultant to come out of that state?

35 year old Steve Verzwyvelt, Jr. doesn't fancy himself a Carville, but he has been knocking around the political word for a dozen years. most recently working with several Dem Super PAC's involved in US Senate races. He spent a good portion of his career as partner in what he describes as the "award-winning" Democratic media firm Chao SMM. There he specialized in congressional races. The firm has since closed and lead partner Ben Chao has teamed with Joe Trippi & Associates.

Verzwyvelt (Ver-ZWEI-velt) touched down in New Mexico this past weekend and is only now starting to immerse himself in the Guv race. "It's winnable. We need to raise the money to get our message out," he opined to us.

Insiders say Dem nominee King loaned himself about $200,0000 to kick-start his general election effort and used a good chunk of it to make sure he had at least one TV ad up as Gov. Martinez and the GOP governors association flood the airwaves in the early going.

King hails from a wealthy NM ranch family. His new campaign guru can relate. His family owns a 6,000 acre farm in Natchitoches, La. where he picked cotton during summer school breaks.

Veryzwyvelt was not aware of the NM-Louisiana political connection established with Gatorgate--the controversy over the Martinez administration awarding a lucrative racino lease to the ABQ Downs which has Louisiana based ownership. He did, however, say he was familiar with his campaign counterpart--Martinez political operative Jay McCleskey. "I've read a bit about him," Verzwyvelt quipped in his pronounced Louisiana drawl. "I look forward to beating him."

Here's a 2008 article on Verzwyvelt. And here's the National Journal piece on McCleskey.


Jamie Estrada (Sorber, ABQ Journal)
Speaking of campaign managers,  as expected, Jamie Estrada who had a short-lived stint as Susana's campaign manager back in 2010, copped a plea in that federal case charging him with hacking into the Guv's campaign email account and distributing emails to her political foes, including Dem Party Chairman Sam Bregman.

The plea carries a good possibility that Estrada will not do any prison time and it avoids a political spectacle that we all would have enjoyed but is probably good for the Guv. She probably doesn't need to be discussing in open court her taste in underwear (the subject of one of the leaked emails) or other intimate matters.

Here's the news release on the plea deal from US Attorney Damon Martinez.

And now that the US attorney and Feds have cleared up the email case, what about the probe into the ABQ Downs racino lease? That was another subject of the emails intercepted by Estrada.


A Republican state representative deploring the state of the New Mexico economy? Yep. ABQ GOP State Rep. Jimmie Hall delivered the eyebrow raiser in an op-ed piece he co-authored with syndicated columnist Harold Morgan. It sure wasn't approved by the Martinez campaign. Take a look:

The worst state economy in the nation is here, Albuquerqueans are very good at divorce, people are leaving the state and incomes are flat. These things go together. For April, we lost wage jobs, year- over year for the fourth consecutive month. . . We are one of three states with year-over-year losses, keeping us in the singular position of the nation’s worst state economy. . .Maybe it was newly divorced people leaving. Men’s Health magazine ranked divorce propensity in 100 cities. Albuquerque placed 99th.

Hall is known for his independent streak. His "tell it like is" take on the NM economic reality reinforces that reputation.

There's an idea--"independent Republicans." Didn't we see something to that effect on the endangered species list?. . . .

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