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Monday, July 13, 2015

Where Are The Conservatives? Millions In APD Lawsuit Settlements Raise Question, Plus: Keller With Another Hot Potato For Balderas, And: Fantasy Island In Rio Rancho 

Where are the conservatives? It's a question we hear more and more as city officials report  that nearly $30 million has been paid out since 2010 to settle multiple lawsuits over APD shootings.

The latest came Friday afternoon when it was announced the city will pay the family of homeless camper James Boyd $5 million for the police shooting that claimed his life last year. You would expect fiscal watchdog groups to be outraged over the management that led to all the shootings and taken such a toll on city coffers, but we hear nothing from the Rio Grande Foundation, the NM Business Coalition or the local Tea Party, all of which are usually first in line to decry wasteful government spending.

Why is the police management of Republican Mayor Richard Berry exempt from any criticism or second guessing by these leading groups even as the city's economic stagnation means we struggle to grow the budget enough to keep up with inflation and while millions more in lawsuit settlements lurk?

Back in the day a group called Concerned Citizens led by the intrepid businesswoman Elizabeth Cook held city officials feet to the fire when it came to fiscal matters--whether they were conducted by Republicans or Democrats. Not today. The fiscal watchdogs are sorely missed. Their barking could hasten reform but you don't even hear a whimper.

THE MESSAGE GAME

Of course we noticed that the Boyd settlement was announced on a Friday afternoon in an obvious effort to bury the news. Why they try this old subterfuge in the 24 hour news world of today is an open question. . . .And then there's Tourism Secretary Rebecca Latham coming out with an op-ed after being busted for putting out tourism numbers that led people to believe the state was being flooded with out-of-state tourists. Instead it was found that all of the recent increase could be attributed to New Mexicans traveling around their own state. Come on Rebecca, everyone is trying hard to support tourism. Just level with us. Why make it so hard?

MORE HOT POTATOES

Sec. Padilla
Attorney General Hector Balderas may have to get a bigger oven to store the hot potatoes being tossed his way by State Auditor Tim Keller.

First, Keller's investigation of the possibly rigged Taser contract with APD landed on Balderas' lap and now a Keller probe into allegations that Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla gave preferential treatment to a former client of her CPA firm has been sent Hector's way.

Keller's hit on Padilla was predictably answered with the full force of the Guv's political machine which basically called him a useless political hack and the most partisan "state auditor in state history." Not that any of the kids writing this stuff could tell you the history of that office.

Auditor Keller
Keller's willingness to take on the Guv's machine--the first Dem politico to do so in a concerted way--has the Alligators feeding. Will Balderas back up Keller on Taser and Tax and Rev or back off? Both men are considered possible '18 Dem guv contenders. A Dem strategist partial to the Keller crowd comes with this:

Keller is standing up directly to the Governor's machine and taking them on--not nibbling around the edges or taking a pass but making clear that no matter where the trail leads, he will go after fraud and abuse of power. The administration's response was telling. The tough prosecutor Martinez didn't address the real issues of fraud, but instead chose a campaign level attack to deflect from the real story. Keller deserves credit for having the guts and backbone to do this. Democrats should be proud of Keller and he's quickly becoming standard bearer for challenging this administration, 

Keller may make some Dems proud but not many of them are out there publicly joining the cheer leading. However, NM Dem Party Chair Deb Haaland did back Keller and called on Secretary Padilla to resign.

Keller appears to score here as the Machine is most effective when on the offense. They play defense a bit sloppy and with overheated rhetoric when they are feeling heat. That's their soft spot and Keller is poking it. Now all eyes are on Balderas.

FANTASY ISLAND

Now direct from Fantasy Island in Rio Rancho this Monday:

The Sandoval Economic Alliance is taking a shot at luring a corporate giant, asking Connecticut-based General Electric to consider moving its headquarters here. According to news accounts, GE has begun putting together “an exploratory team to look into the company’s options to relocate HQ to another state with a more pro-business environment” in response to higher taxes approved as part of the Connecticut state budget last month. . .  The company employs nearly 6,000 people in Connecticut. 

Sure, and GE can set up shop at Intel in Rio Rancho when the last of the employees there clear out. And is this the same GE that pulled out of ABQ a few years ago?:

General Electric will close its 42-year-old jet-engine component plant in the South Valley at the end of September (2010), company officials said. The plant still has about 360 employees. About 265 of the initial 400 employees are eligible for retirement and early retirement packages.

Still, if this fantasy ever came to life we would get a kick out of hearing the mayor of Rio Rancho exclaim:  "The Plane! the Plane! as the GE chiefs circle the ABQ Sunport for their landing.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Friends of former ABQ Metro Court and District Court Judge Diane Dal Santo relay word of her passing over the weekend. Although she retired in 2001 after 15 years on the bench, she remained well-known and popular in Democratic circles. After her retirement she remain engaged, recording a jazz album, co-founding the group Pennies for the Homeless, among other activities. She is survived by her husband of 30 years, veteran NM lobbyist Fred O'Cheskey. Dal Santo, who struggled with health problems in recent years, was 65.

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