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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

NYT Spotlights NM Scandals As Susana Slow Waltzes On National Stage, Plus: DC's Hottest Ticket, And ABQ's Shoot 'Em Up Holiday Weekend Revs Up Crime Talk 

As Susana slowly waltzes across the national stage, soon to become the chair of the Republican Governors Association amid continued whispers about her vice-presidential prospects, the national media is also along for the dance. The New York Times comes with a piece today on the multiple scandals right here in Susana's backyard that could--if used effectively--tarnish her image as a corruption fighter:

For Democrats, (Secretary of State) Duran’s fall from grace caps a string of scandals that have offered a chance to regain lost ground ahead of next year’s elections. They include the hiring of a man accused of child sexual assault as deputy schools superintendent in Albuquerque and an investigation over potential abuse of power by a senior state executive.

The goal, Democratic Party leaders said, is to taint the narrative of Ms. Martinez, the nation’s first female Hispanic governor, as a tough-on-crime leader who campaigned on cleaning up politics and is often mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate for a party struggling to improve its image with Hispanic voters.


Martinez is concerned and has turned up the heat for SOS Duran to resign.

The Dems have thus far been hapless in their efforts to take Martinez down, fearing to attack her even as she and her Machine eviscerates them. That has served to stabilize her popularity and thus her chances at using her political muscle next year to have the state Senate join the state House in sporting Republican majorities.

A HOT TICKET

Talk about demand exceeding supply. Each US senator and congressman get only one ticket to one of the most anticipated events in recent DC history--the September 24 address to Congress by Pope Francis. Not an easy decision for a lawmaker to make but Dem US Senator Tom Udall made quick work of it. His one ticket will go to Archbishop John Wester who this summer took command of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

If Udall or the Archbishop get any selfies with the pontiff we'll be sure to blog them. No word yet on how the other four members of the state's congressional delegation will divvy up their tickets.

Udall says he has 200 tickets for the simulcast of the Pope's speech which will be broadcast on the grounds of the Capitol. New Mexico residents can request tickets by emailing jointmeeting@tomudall.senate.gov by Thursday, September 10.

APS AND APD

ABQ attorney Jeffrey Baker is a certified Legal Beagle who writes us:

Joe: Did the ABQ public schools give former APS Superintendent Luis Valentino a cell phone? Did APS get it back when he resigned? The phone, which is public property, may contain some interesting text messages and e-mails. Under IPRA, these are public documents.

The way things go missing around here you wonder if a public records request would turn up anything. Take a look:

A former APD worker in charge of releasing public records says top city officials hid or got rid of evidence in high profile cases. The claims came to light in the case of Mary Han. Police ruled the prominent attorney’s death a suicide, but her family claimed murder and said police botched the case. . . Former APD custodian of records Reynaldo Chavez  says he was told by city attorney Kathy Levy not to give the Han family any information. Chavez says the information exists and is kept on a separate database. He says he is worried APD will destroy the evidence. Han’s family has filed an emergency motion and wants the information handed over to the court to preserve. The city says the allegations are from a disgruntled former employee and are outlandish.

Outlandish? APD won't even release cell phone video of the murder of a 17 year old at a skate park, even as suspicions brew over exactly who murdered Jaquise Lewis. Now that's "outlandish."

And the ABQ Free Press piles on:

The former records custodian for APD alleges that top officials at APD, including Chief Gorden Eden, ordered him to find ways to deny public records requests from the news media and members of the public. Reynaldo Chavez, who was fired on Aug. 24, says the orders to deny or limit the department’s response to records requests came even after he complained to top brass that their orders were illegal and in violation of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act.

GUNS BLAZING

It was another guns blazing holiday weekend in the ABQ metro with multiple murders and assorted mayhem which has become the new normal while this generation of civic leaders (and some media) claim it's like this everywhere. Not.

In any event, the new panacea to solve the city and state's worsening crime problem is a proposed constitutional amendment that "would allow judges the option of denying pretrial release on bail to defendants who are too dangerous or unreasonable flight risks. The proposal also would guarantee that no person entitled to pretrial release is held in jail simply because they are financially unable to afford a money bond."

Before we hop on the bail bandwagon, let's ask ABQ attorney Steve Suttle--who has worked as an assistant attorney general--to give us a briefing:  

It won't be a panacea. The first result would probably be local jail overcrowding. Second, it would accelerate speedy trial considerations as incarceration always weighs against the prosecution in terms of time against the rule. That might actually do more harm than good in the long run. Such an amendment won't solve many problems and I doubt very much that the House-passed version (whatever it is) would make it through the Senate. The R's can rant and rave about this, but in the end of the end it's simply more fodder for Her Excellency (Gov. Martinez) and company to use in their all-out effort to turn all the "S" senators out next cycle.

I believe attention should be drawn to the failure of prosecutors and judges to do what the legislature has already mandated that they do. Some people are going to commit crimes while they are out on bond, regardless of cash, surety, or recognizance. That's just a fact. That mechanisms are in place to treat repeat and armed offenders more harshly and aren't being used should be of concern and the subject of public discussion.

A constitutional amendment would require majority approval by the state House and Senate and then would be sent to voters for their approval. Suttle's point about the Guv using this as a wedge issue in next year's campaign bears watching.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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