Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Impact Of Heinrich's Stumble Is Weighed, NM On a Worst List You Would Not Expect And Meet The Newest State Senator 

It was an embarrassing mistake for freshman Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich when it was revealed he was getting reimbursed with government funds for commuting between his home and office, a well-known prohibited practice that forced Heinrich to apologize and pay back $1,900 in unauthorized expenditures.

The rare misstep for the 43 year old lawmaker comes amid an envious winning streak. He was elected to the ABQ city council then to a four year stint in the US House and then in 2012 it was on to the US Senate. Heinrich is not up for re-election until 2018 so in that sense he's lucky on the timing of the flap. Still, one of our Dem insiders says Heinrich has been slightly dented by the incident:

This type of stuff is going to plague Heinrich because he has no personal wealth. It's hard to be a senator or a congressman in Washington and go to events, lunches, coffees and then travel home and have to pick up some of those tabs. It gets expensive and that's why it's easier for wealthy people to be in Congress. However, Heinrich should know these rules by now. People like Heinrich come from modest means but live the DC lifestyle. Remember when as a congressman Heinrich slept on the floor of his office? That was about him not having the cash for an apartment. Unfortunately, he gives Republicans an issue and this makes a slight dent if he runs for re-election or tries to get confirmed for secretary of the interior in a Clinton Administration.

Heinrich should have no problem enduring the nick he received but the affair does raise questions about how his office is organized and why the error was not spotted before the senator was busted for it in the national press.


We're used to seeing New Mexico at the bottom of those worst lists, but this one was a mild surprise. The Kiplinger report ranks our enchanted land as one of the worst places in the USA to retire to:

Safety may be an issue. For every 100,000 residents in New Mexico, there were 3,705 property crimes, including burglary and car theft, and 613 violent crimes, such as rape and murder, in 2013. (Comparatively, across the U.S., 2,731 property crimes and 368 violent crimes occurred per 100,000 people.) The poverty rate for older residents is also high at 12.1%, versus 9.4% for the U.S.

It takes a lot for the lure of a Sunbelt climate and a dream landscape to be spurned by those about to embark on their golden years, but crime and poverty will do it every time,

Also on the crime front, we get this from the Atlantic that's particularly relevant to APD:

There is a tendency, when examining police shootings, to focus on tactics at the expense of strategy. One interrogates the actions of the officer in the moment trying to discern their mind-state. We ask ourselves, "Were they justified in shooting?" But, in this time of heightened concern around the policing, a more essential question might be, "Were we justified in sending them?" At some point, Americans decided that the best answer to every social ill lay in the power of the criminal-justice system. Vexing social problems—homelessness, drug use, the inability to support one's children, mental illness—are presently solved by sending in men and women who specialize in inspiring fear and ensuring compliance. Fear and compliance have their place, but it can't be every place.


Senator Barela
Here's the latest addition to the NM state senate. He's Ted Barela of Estancia, shown here being sworn in last week as his wife Janice looks on.

Republican Barela was appointed by Gov. Martinez to fill the vacancy created when Dem Senator Phil Griego was felled by scandal. Barela's appointment makes the senate's partisan divide a bit closer. It's now 24 Dems and 18 R's.

Barela is a former mayor of Estancia who is a projects manager for the ABQ engineering firm Bohannan Houston. He is retired from state government where he worked 26 years at the Dept. of Transportation.

All 42 senate seats are up for election next year and Barela is expected to seek election to the sprawling six county district he represents. However, it won't be easy for him to stay in Santa Fe. The seat leans Dem and Liz Stefanics, a Santa Fe county commissioner who once held the seat but lost it to Griego, is the first D to announce that she will try to take it back next year.

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