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Friday, February 06, 2015

Backfire At The Roundhouse: GOP Lobbyists Park In Gentry's Office After He Charges Dem Lobbyists With Same Offense, Plus: Udall And Sandia, A Savior And A Miracle And Remembering Mike Runnels 

Rep. Nate Gentry
State House Majority Leader Nate Gentry says point blank that lobbyists Natasha Ning and Drew Setter were given a card key to a capitol office by then House Speaker Kenny Martinez, but Martinez and the lobbyists flatly deny the charge. So where's the proof that they had a card key and why hasn't someone asked for it?

And what's with this? ProgressNowNM reports GOP lobbyist Joe Thompson on Thursday took over the Majority Leader's conference room along with a gaggle of other lobbyists just days after Nate was busting Kenny. Here's the hypocrisy watch:

Less than a week after Majority Leader Gentry began making the media rounds alleging a former Democratic leader improperly let lobbyists use Roundhouse office space for personal business, Gentry’s own conference room was full of lobbyists Thursday afternoon – complete with a “reserved by [lobbyist] Joe Thompson” sign on the door. ProgressNowNM captured pictures of lobbyist Joe Thompson hosting meetings in Gentry’s conference room Thursday afternoon between 2:30 and 3:30 pm.

Things have been going nice and smoothly for the R's in Santa Fe so why did they throw firebombs over something that could also set flames on their own trousers? Well, old habits are hard to break. Will Speaker Tripp put the leash on Nate in response? Or is this his rodeo, too?

And what of the media that has faithfully reported Gentry's allegations? Will they also report on lobbyist Thompson's camp-out in Nate's digs? Well, we won't hold our breath.

More on this: Wall-leaners wonder if Gentry's play is an effort to move clients away from Dem lobbyists and over to GOP favored lobbyists. You know, those that give the Guv's political machine firepower. If so, that's really going for the money jugular. And did you notice the Dem lobbyists under fire have lawyered up?

Right around now the Roundhouse is looking like a circular firing squad.

THE FEDS AND US

It was a real eyebrow raiser when Sandia Labs announced that the amount it has spent on New Mexico businesses dropped by some $13 million in the last budget year. That has had to have an impact on the local economy. But what about Sandia's overall budget? It comes from a variety of sources. Senator Udall's office says while the NM contracts have been cut the total amount of money coming into Sandia in recent years has ticked up

SNL has seen steady increases over the last several years. . . the DOE/NNSA spending levels are only part of the funding for the lab. It also receives about $1 billion annually in funding for non-weapons work. . . From FY08 to FY14, full funding went up $378M. That’s a 16.5% increase.

While Udall asserts cuts in Sandia contracts are not causing any of the downsizing of the local economy, this sure is:

Federal contracts in New Mexico declined by 17 percent over the past five years , while employment in professional and business services in the state has shrunk by almost 11 percent since 2007, according to federal data and an independent national think tank. . . Meanwhile, the federal government payroll is down about 3 percent in New Mexico since 2013, according to a presentation Federal Reserve economist Felix gave in Albuquerque in late September, based on August 2014 data

A SAVIOR AND A MIRACLE


First, the Savior: It comes in the form of a headline from the Detroit Free Press:

Susana Martinez looms as GOP’s savior in 2016

Well, given what has happened to Detroit in recent years you can't blame Detroit for looking for a Savior.

And then there's the miracle. The NM Biz Coalition reports:

The NMBC would like to thank new Speaker of the House Don Tripp. For the first time in recent memory, the House is respecting the public’s time with hearings and floor sessions by actually following posted schedules. Rep. Tripp promised the public committee meetings would start on time and they have! 

But don't the early morning on time meetings cramp the style of House Dems who enjoy the party circuit more than the R's? Not really. Speaker Don allows them to take naps at the meetings. They wake them when the R's are done voting.

MIKE RUNNELS

The public knew Mike Runnels as a jovial politician with a broad smile always at the ready. But he was also a "very serious guy, well-read and extremely intelligent," said ABQ attorney Bob McNeill, an old rival of Mike's who became a fast friend.

Added Carrol Cagle, another longtime friend: "He was a Renaissance man whose span of interests was amazingly wide."

Runnels was lieutenant governor under Democratic Governor Toney Anaya from 1983-86. His family says he died peacefully at his home in Ruidoso Thursday, lying on the couch with the TV on. He was 69.

Runnels had a colorful career, serving not only as lieutenant governor but twice getting elected District Attorney for Valencia, Cibola and Sandoval counties. He also served as a Santa Fe city councilor.

But it was Congress that pulled most at his heartstrings. His father, oilman Harold "Mud" Runnels, served in the US House from the southern NM district from 1971 until he succumbed to cancer in 1980.

Mike made two runs for the same seat, the first in 1986 when he won the nomination and went against GOP Congressman Joe Skeen and lost. He unsuccessfully sought the nomination in 2000.

Oldtimers will remember the now legendary incident in 1984 when Lt. Gov. Runnels made national news. He crashed his car into a Santa Fe home and was discovered drinking milk from the home's refrigerator in an apparent effort to stave off the effects of alcohol. He was not charged with DWI, but the punchline was the house he hit. It belonged to Tito Griego, one of the few Republicans in Santa Fe and among its most prominent.

While the incident dealt a blow to his political career, when he did some Election Night radio broadcasts with us in later years Runnels shook his head over the incident, chuckled and gave that jovial smile.

We last talked to him in early October when he called inviting us to attend a lunch of politicos to discuss the Guv candidacy of Gary King. The lunch never came off but Runnels' zeal for the political game was with him until the end.

Former Gov. Anaya said Runnels had:

A keen political mind. He knew what buttons had to be pushed to advance an agenda. He was always pressing me for more responsibilities, especially in the areas of local government and infrastructure. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. 

McNeill, who lost the 1982 Dem lieutenant governor nod to Runnels, said his friend will  be remembered for his competence in presiding over the state Senate and for helping small NM towns--like Silver City--help rebuild their downtowns through the Main Street program. "He was both fun-loving and effective," McNeill said.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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