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Monday, February 01, 2016

More On The "All Crime All The Time" Legislative Session; Law Enforcement Takes Some Hits, Plus: Senate Leader Sanchez Dons Funeral Garb; GOP House Bills To Be Buried, And: Replacement Eyed For Prominent GOP State Senator 

The "all crime all the time" crowd in Santa Fe is showering us with "lock them up and throw away the key" legislation but they might want to look at this. When it comes to paying our judges, New Mexico ranks last or nearly dead last at every level. That might be kind of relevant as the crime bills would put increased responsibility on the courts as well as the jails. That would cost money that the House R's are not talking about. . .

Not that many of the crime bills are going to get to the Governor's desk. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez was spotted in his traditional formal funeral clothes over the weekend and carrying a shovel in hand. He was preparing to bury dozens of bills from GOP House legislators. They will be the official mourners at the funeral and their mournful wails promise to fill the Roundhouse for the remaining days of the legislative session. Think of the Wailing Wall. . .

CRIME BLAME

While Santa Fe and the media are busy blaming the judicial system for the state's crime mess, it's clear that law enforcement shares blame, too. How about the astounding news that federal drug agents were buying heroin and guns from the criminal who allegedly killed APD officer Daniel Webster. They could have arrested the guy. Instead, a couple of weeks after the drug buys he kills Webster. For this one we call in retired APD Seargent Dan Klein:

The revelation that the violent career criminal who murdered Officer Webster was selling drugs and a gun to ATF agents days before he murdered Webster raises tough questions  for law enforcement. What is more important, taking a violent career criminal off the streets as soon as you have charges? Or do you use that criminal to work yourself up to a bigger crook? And who is making that decision? Has Albuquerque become a dumping ground for violent career criminals because law enforcement is purposely not taking them off the streets? What is the Department of Justice / Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms role? Are we putting citizens and beat cops at risk by not removing these criminals as soon as we have charges against them? The DOJ needs to answer these questions.

And how about tthat outburst of righteous indignation by State Police Chief Pete Kassetas when former ABQ City Councilor Pete Dinelli testified in Santa Fe against the notorious double-dipping bill being pushed by ABQ Mayor Berry. Dinell said the "return to work" bill is not needed by law enforcement because, for example, the State Police Dept. is fully staffed. Kassetas exploded:

How dare you say my agency is 100 percent filled!”

The chief's contention was easily debunked by the ABQ Free Press:

In November, the state police responded to ABQ Free Press questions regarding its staffing levels. At the time, the department said it was budgeted for 678 officers and that it had 642 on staff. The department also said that it had 36 cadets in the state’s Law Enforcement Training Academy and that they would graduate in December. Those cadets did indeed graduate in December. Add 642 and 36 and what do you get … 678!

Kassetas has won praise for his performance as chief but he might want to stick to the law. When he made the wrong political play and ran under the skirts of Berry-Martinez he fell victim to an Alligator strike. We hope you heal quickly, Chief. (And sorry, Mayor Berry, your double-dipping bill is as dead as Deming on a Sunday night.)

WHITE FOR WILSON

A legislative retirement of note appears to be around the corner. ABQ area GOP State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort is set to turn in her office keys at the end of the year and former ABQ GOP State Rep. Jim White hopes to pick them up.

BernCo GOP Chairman Frank Ruvolo is putting out the word for White, saying White served in the House from 2009 to 2014 and served 26 years in the Air Force, including Vietnam combat.

Beffort, a popular lawmaker on both sides of the aisle and a successful small businesswoman in employment consulting, came to the Senate in 1997. She is the ranking GOP member on the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Her late husband, Steve Beffort, was a cabinet secretary under former Gov. Gary Johnson.

Beffort, 69, became a major player in the state GOP by 2006, the year she won the party's nomination for lieutenant governor. She ran as the running mate of John Dendahl. The pair met with defeat at the hands of Dem Gov. Richardson and Lt. Governor Denish.

By State Senate standards Beffort is merely middle-aged. From what anyone can tell, 91 year old State Senator John Pinto is prepping for yet another run this year and 83 year old Senate Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen is also expect to seek re-election.

All 112 legislative seats are up for election this November. The primary election is in June.

SANTA FE CAN KICKING

Santa Fe city government grew too big as the city frolicked like it was 1999. That was indeed a very good year as tourism boomed then and for a number of years after. But the big spending tourists are gone and the Santa Fe jobs bleed continues. Caterpillar just laid off 50 workers and state government austerity is keeping in check the number of state employees in the city.

Now City Councilor Carmichael Dominguez wants to raise an assortment of taxes to plug the huge $15 million city deficit and prevent any layoffs of city workers. He's right to fret over the personal pain but to tax the many to spare the pain of a few shirks the responsibility Dominguez and Mayor Javier Gonzales have to own up to the grave errors of the past and put Santa Fe on the right fiscal path. That means making painful but needed personnel decisions--not kicking the can into the taxpayers corner.

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