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Monday, May 04, 2015

The Taser Bust: More Cockroaches Under City Hall's Carpets? Plus: Speculation on Keller's Future, A New Spinmeister For Berry And Going Nuclear In Hobbs 

Now that one big fat cockroach has crawled out from under the carpets of City Hall, the question is whether there are more to come. 

State Auditor Tim Keller busted former APD Chief Ray Schultz for "greasing" a nearly $2 million city contract for Taser, maker of police video lapel cameras. The Berry administration is reacting by admitting there are some weaknesses in the city "procurement code." That's prompted City Hall watchers to ask if Taser is the only questionable contract approved by APD or other city agencies under this faulty procurement code or are there more cockroaches to come?

As for Keller, his aggressive move against Schultz and the Taser deal--he said there have were criminal violations of ethics laws and forwarded the audit to the AG and DA--put the political guessing game into overdrive.

Veteran politico and independent Mike Santullo took note of our Friday blog on speculation about Keller seeking the '18 Dem Guv nomination by adding, "Don't forget the '17 mayoral race."

We are quite away out,  but aside from a couple of city councilors, I am not hearing any big names. Keller is a former ABQ state Senator and now knee-deep in a major city issue. He could take a serious look at a mayoral run. He would not have to give up his auditor's seat to make a run since he is not up for re-election until '18.

Reader and Dem activist Danny Hernandez also brought up the mayoral angle:

The target of Keller's investigation makes me wonder if his audience is Albuquerque voters. Although it's no secret Keller and (Attorney General) Balderas are both eying the fourth floor of the Roundhouse, it's also no secret that in 2013--before the APD crisis hit the fan with the James Boyd shooting video--Keller was eying the mayor's office. He likely took one look at Berry's high approval rating and decided to take a pass--or a rain check. Is it possible Keller is keeping his options open and he could also be looking at a mayoral run in 2017?

Meanwhile on the 11th floor of Government Center Republican Mayor Berry has hired himself a new spinmeister, but don't expect any drastic change in message. The new spinner is none other than the wife of GOP state House Majority Leader Nate Gentry.

Erin Gentry will collect a handsome salary in the $90,000 area but as a full-fledged member in good standing of the Guv's political machine, it's hard to see anything but more of the same.  Not that Berry couldn't use some Dale Carnegie lessons. . .

His relationship with the three TV stations is in shreds because of the constant APD stonewalling over public records.  Berry has lost much of a politician's most precious asset with the media--trust. The newspaper is still hanging onto his coattails but one wonders how long that can last as TV news gets the jump on the big stories like the Taser corruption, leaving the paper in the dust.

And how about Taser? No worries, really. When they inked the deal with the city its stock was trading at under $9 a share. Today it's in the $32 area--a nearly 300 percent climb. Still, the company's generosity in entertaining (and hiring) police chiefs has won national notice. Wall Street can be pretty merciless if it notices any cracks in the company's armor with those who buy its products.

GOING NUCLEAR

It may seem nearly nonsensical for the Martinez administration to be putting its muscle behind a private company's proposal to store high level nuclear waste in SE NM in light of the recent radiation leak at WIPP. But nuke boosters in Hobbs and Carlsbad say they want to do what no one else in the USA wants to do and Martinez says bring it on.

NM Dem Senator Udall Tom Udall has been taking a lambasting from ardent enviros who oppose his compromise bill on chemical safety, but they--and much of the rest of the state-- may join the cheer leading squad over his reaction to making the state a high level nuke waste dump:

I don’t think we should be talking about this at all while the state and the Department of Energy are still addressing the serious accident and radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. I have helped secure hundreds of millions in vital funding for WIPP for many years, and my focus now is ensuring WIPP can reopen safely and the workers are protected. 


Sen. Heinrich shares Udall's views. Odds of Hobbs becoming the new Yucca Mountain? About the same as Manny Pacquiao winning a rematch against Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

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