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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Could Berry's Buses Be A Bomb With GOP Base? Plus: Mary Kay's Mishap, And: Pushback Against An "All Crime All The Time" Session 

Mayor Berry
Never mind the botched management of the police department or the tepid economy, it's that proposed $100 million rapid bus line down the middle of Central Avenue that could prove to be Mayor Berry's Waterloo with his GOP conservative base.

The Rapid Transit Project, which would devote two of Central's four lanes to the buses from Louisana to Coors, is drawing strong opposition from business owners and developers. They see it as a a certain biz killer, making that stretch of Central a jammed up avenue that motorists will then avoid.

The list of businesses opponents on their website is long and deep, numbering over 150 and fraught with political peril for Berry.

Berry needs $80 million from the feds to get the project started. The city would pony up another $20 million. Berry is pushing hard to get the project going this year, probably in part, to showcase it for a possible 2018 Governor run. But what no one has mentioned is the likelihood of a legal battle over the project that could kill it in the crib or stall it for years. Look for a stiff legal challenge if it appears the Berry buses are going to rev up their engines.a

NOT JUST R'S

It's not just Republican business owners who are joining the bus battle. Dem City Councilor Pat Davis is getting  an earful from Nob Hill businesses. He's trying to hold them off because of support for the bus plan among his constituents in the liberal SE Heights district but the heat is only going to get hotter for him.

And here's another angle: The Berry bus plan mimics a "light rail" system that was proposed by former Mayor Chavez and which Berry and his Republican supporters mocked and which helped Berry beat Chavez in 2009. Now he's looking like "Marty Berry."

Another problem? Central Avenue is already the best serviced and most reliable bus route in the city. Berry says tearing up miles of Central and gobbling up two car lanes will be a boon for economic development along the war torn avenue. But that's not pacifying opponents. They don't see a city that was purposely laid out for the automobile suddenly getting obsessed with riding fast buses up and down Central. Good point.

MARY KAY'S MISHAP

Sen. Papen
This mishap doesn't equate with Governor Martinez's infamous pizza party but it is a big embarrassment for Las Cruces State Senator Mary Kay Papen who is Senate President Pro Tem:

Police arrested a former aide to Papen and his live-in partner Monday for allegedly embezzling more than $180,000 from her personal, campaign and government accounts over two years. Stephen Siddall, Papen’s former campaign treasurer and longtime assistant, faces charges of embezzlement over $20,000, nine counts of forgery, two counts of disposing stolen property and one count each of identity theft and conspiracy.

$180,000 disappears from three different accounts and it goes unnoticed for two years? Well, the state auditor seems to find hundreds of millions lying around and unaccounted for in Santa Fe so this is chicken feed by comparsion.

Sen. Papen, 83, and in the Senate since 2001, has not formally announced her re-election plans for this year, although she is expected to run. There has been chatter that her daughter, Allison Smith, a longtime lobbyist for the NM Restaurant Association, may someday make a play to succeed her mother.

NO HEDGE

Wouldn't it be something if Bernie Sanders ended up as the Dem prez nominee? Top NM Dems--all lined up behind Hillary--sure would have egg on their faces. But they are going with the odds and all of them are endorsing Clinton. The latest establishment Dem to do so is Attorney General Balderas who traveled to early caucus state Iowa Monday to campaign for her. Both NM US Senators are also in the Hillary camp. Maybe the Dems should think about throwing Bernie a bone and getting him an endorsement or two. There still are some liberal Dems around here, aren't there?

THEY SAID IT 

The blatant political agenda of the Governor and the R's-to make all crime all the time the chief issue at the upcoming legislative session at the expense of education and the economy--is getting on the nerves of a number of observers, including  Walt Rubel at the Las Cruces Sun-News:

. . . To look at the bills for the session prefiled, you would think the biggest problem facing New Mexicans is that not enough of us are in jail. . . Of the 85 bills prefiled as of Thursday in the Republican-controlled House, 17  have as their primary objective the incarceration of a greater number of New Mexicans. . . At a time of declining revenue. . .  coupled with increasing Medicaid costs, lawmakers will have some tough choices to make. Do we adequately fund our schools and ensure that New Mexicans living in poverty have access to health care, or do we spend that money locking up more of our neighbors?

Locking 'em up and throwing away the key is a campaign strategy, not a governing strategy. But you already knew that. . .

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016
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