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Monday, April 20, 2015

Dr. No Gets A Yes From This Corner As Special Session Wrangling Escalates, Plus: Kari And the Cops; She Calls It A "Crisis" Setting Off Political Speculation 

Dr. No
It's been quite a while since we lined up with Dr. No but the game of La Politica is played on shifting sands so here we are. . .

For those new to the game, Dr. No is Democratic State Senator John Arthur Smith, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance committee and one of Santa Fe's chief austerity hawks thus his nickname. Currently the good doctor is in the driver's seat in trying to craft a deal with the Governor and the Republican controlled House for a special legislative session to bring back to life that $264 million capital outlay bill that died in the waning moments of Session '15.

Smith is trying to talk some sense into the rabid tax cutters of the Republican right, saying the special session should be on that one topic and one topic only--the big pork bill that would stimulate the economy. But the R's are pushing for inclusion at the special session of a tax incentive package (a pretty measly one of $10 million) that also died in the session's final moments. Smith is warning that he doesn't see the votes in the Dem Senate for that tax package and that it could be the deal breaker that keeps a special session off limits.

On this one Dr. No is giving the right prescription for good government. Will Gov. Martinez hush the tax talk, rein in the radical Republicans and join us in the Dr. No cheer leading section?

Then there's Dr. No's statement about that eyebrow raising finding by State Auditor Tim Keller that there is some $4.5 billion in unspent money in hundreds of various state coffers--including hundreds of millions not being spent on construction projects previously approved by the Legislature. The latest:

(Smith) pointed out that about $800 million of previously allocated capital outlay money hasn't been spent. And he added about $237 million is also tied up in projects that haven't moved. Reform is needed in "the worst way. The governor is going to have to step up to the plate and say we need to claw that money back if you don't spend it in a timely fashion," he said. Most of the money Keller identified is already spoken for and authorized for particular projects and programs across the state, the governor's office said.

That's the first call for action from a top state government leader we've seen since Keller came with those findings. Unfortunately, the Guv seems unconvinced and perhaps unconcerned. Why can't the administration and the Legislature do a line-by-line examination of each and every project? Those that are not going anywhere would have their funding reallocated and spent on projects to improve the state as well as stimulating our flat-lined economy.

In any event, our alliance with Dr. No will no doubt be frayed again when he restarts his nay saying ways but for now we're enjoying the medicine he's prescribing.

DEAL OR NO DEAL?

Here's an idea: The Senate Dems agree to that tax package the R's crave and in return the R's approve an increase in the state minimum wage to $9 an hour.

KARI AND THE COPS

A computer glitch delayed the posting of our Friday blog on the naming of a special prosecutor by Brandenburg in the case of the APD killing of homeless camper James Boyd. If you missed it just scroll down. Now more news from that announcement.

In announcing that veteran trial attorney Randi McGinn would be the especial prosecutor, Brandenburg became the first  high elected official we've heard refer to the ongoing saga of APD as a "crisis," even though we and countless others have routinely used that adjective:

We are in a crisis that I don't know we can recover from in my lifetime.". . . Brandenburg went on to say that she believes there's a sense of a lost faith in our government, but especially the police department.

That, of course, was an immediate appetizer for the Alligators. Is Brandenburg laying the groundwork for a '17 mayoral run? Chew on that, Gators, as you wonder what early polling would show.

As for her seeking a fifth term as DA in '16, she has yet to announce her plans. But that may be breaking her way. Former federal prosecutor Raul Torrez wants the job and has already raised $100,000 but along comes former APD commander Ed Perea who says he too will run, setting up a possible ethnic split in the Democratic Party that Brandenburg could run through to win the nomination. But be sure, with that mayoral speculation in the background, the R's will labor to field a heavyweight DA candidate of their own. . .

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