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Monday, November 21, 2016

Bombshell Allegations Over APD Evidence Altering; What Now? Plus: New Roundhouse Leadership Named, The Pearce-Udall Drama, And: Sanchez Brothers End 45 Year Elected Presence 

Mayor Berry & Chief Eden
You keep thinking it can't get worse for the deeply troubled ABQ police department, and then it does. The potentially explosive news that APD allegedly altered lapel camera video of fatal police shootings carries the threat of criminal prosecutions of higher-ups in the department and again calls into question the leadership of Chief Gorden Eden and Mayor Barry.

The BernCo district attorney has turned over the allegations to the US attorney which were made in an affidavit in a whistleblower lawsuit from a former APD manager.

But insiders are pointing out that current Dem US Attorney Damon Martinez is headed for the exits, courtesy of President-elect Trump who will get to name a Republican to the spot next year. Rather than throw the APD bombshell into the lap of a political appointee some are suggesting that James Ginger, the Justice Department Monitor for APD, take on the matter and that he ask the FBI to assist him.

As for who will be the next US Attorney for NM, you might want to call southern GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce to find out. He's the most prominent state GOP backer of Trump and is expected to have a major say in filling all the state's plum political posts under the new administration.

One of the more outspoken critics of APD is former city Public Safety Director and City Councilor Pete Dinelli, who was also the 2013 election foe of Mayor Berry. He defeated Dinelli to win a second term. But Dinelli has not gone away and he's now turning up the heat by starting a blog, perhaps with an eye on another mayoral run next year. Dinelli says his blogging subjects will include APD, the DOJ consent decree reforms, the ART project, the minimum wage, mandatory sick leave, public financing of city campaigns and the City Council.

IN WITH THE NEW

The new legislative leadership was picked over the weekend and it looks pretty strong. As expected Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe was selected as majority leader to replace Sen. Michael Sanchez who was defeated in this month's election. Wirth, 54, is deemed liberal but pragmatic by Roundhouse wall-leaners.

Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe, 40, was chosen by House Dems as the new Speaker, one of the most powerful positions in state government. His nomination will be voted on by the entire House but the Dems have the majority and he is a shoo-in. Egolf is seen strong on pushing a new narrative for the Legislature--the economy--instead of the crime agenda the Governor has been pushing. Changing the narrative will be most welcome by the many unemployed New Mexicans. The latest stats has our jobless at 6.7 percent, still the second highest in the nation.

Egolf & Wirth (New Mexican)
A bit of surprise in the contest for House majority leader. The Dem caucus has selected ABQ Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton over ABQ's Javier Martinez who looked for a time like the front-runner. His defeat was a blow to the progressives. Rep. Doreen Gallegos of Las Cruces is the new majority whip, beating out ABQ Rep. Moe Maestas.

As for Stapleton, she was left for the political dead a couple of years ago when she called Gov. Martinez that "Mexican on the Fourth Floor" of the Roundhouse. She recovered from that and now she's in a seat where she can step up her disagreements with the Guv.

On the R side, ABQ Rep. Nate Gentry withstood a challenge from Rep. Townsend of ABQ and will be the House minority leader. Gentry is controversial within his caucus for a number of things. Some of them are suspicious about his conservative credentials and are out off by a sometime abrasive personality that was on display when he was House majority leader. None of it really matters now. When you are in the minority in the House, you are in Siberia.

POLLING PLACE

Some old style polling--landlines only, no cellphones--still came through this past election cycle, says longtime Democratic political consultant and pollster Mark Fleisher. His polling picked up on the upset brewing in Sandoval County where Dem Daymon Ely beat out R Rep. Paul Pacheco (pending a recount) and gave us heads-up on the trouble GOP Rep. Andy Nunez was running into down in Dona Ana County. He also waved the warning flag over the ABQ race in which Dem Bill Tallman narrowly beat GOP state Sen. Lisa Torraco.

Fleisher agrees that the most accurate polling is obtained by using half cellphones and half landlines, but his method can gave him the major trends and it pays off for him and his clients.

PEARCE AND UDALL

GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce, the lone R in the state's five member congressional delegation and who has clashed with the four Dems, raised some eyebrows recently when he sent out a missive congratulating Dem Senators Udall and Heinrich on their new committee assignments. (It's not on Pearce's website. We posted it here.) That's nice but it was also a reminder that Pearce would like to keep Udall where he is and not in the '18 race for Governor which Pearce also has an eye on.

Pearce could be setting up the argument that Udall leaving DC would hurt the state because he would be leaving important seniority behind. That's also the reasoning this reader cites:

I am a little angry that Udall did not challenge Gov. Martinez in 2014 to save us from further harm imposed on New Mexico. Now we are in a fiscal crisis that has no solution, multiple departments at the state level are failing and our economy is in a death spiral. Now more than ever we desperately need federal leadership to deliver some positive news from DC. Instead of working to help New Mexico as our senior and only senator on the Appropriations Committee, Udall wants to jump ship when things get tough in our nation’s capital. He has held federal office for 16 years and wants to abandon us when we need our most powerful senator most.

That will be one of the critiques Udall will certainly weigh as he makes his decision, but with the Dems in the Senate minority and Trump the president, the odds are higher than they were a month ago that he runs for Guv. Remember, if Pearce launches a bid and appears to be the GOP favorite it will only encourage Udall who beat Pearce for the US Senate in 2008 by a margin of 61 to 39 percent. Reader Jaime Fernandez picks up on that:

If Senator Tom Udall runs for governor in 2018, he'll wipe the floor with Steve "Little Texas" Pearce just as he did in 2008 and he'll do the same to Richard "Where are the jobs Berry" or John "8 more years of nothing getting accomplished Sanchez." Udall's candidacy would be a slam dunk. Run Tom run!

GET REAL OR NOT

The requirements to get a NM "Real ID" driver's license are frustrating, to say the least. Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins writes from Las Cruces:

Joe, I went to renew my driver’s license yesterday, had two forms to verify my address, my birth certificate and my Medicare card. Turned down and sent packing. The Motor Vehicle Department  won’t accept a Medicare card with my Social Security number on it; must produce the social security card itself. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Ya can’t get one without the other. Meanwhile my office is flooded with people coming in to get copies of their deeds, marriage licenses, etc., and they are very annoyed.

With all the public disgruntlement and confusion, perhaps the state will modify the ID requirements to get a Real ID?

SANCHEZ SWAN SONG

Sen. Sanchez
One of the Roundhouse Alligators comes with an interesting factoid. He says in 2017 for the first time since 1971--some 45 years--the Legislature will be without Raymond or Michael Sanchez, the Belen brothers who made a major impact on La Politica. Raymond, 75, is a former House speaker turned lobbyist who served nearly 30 years in the House from ABQ. Michael, 66,  gives up the majority leader post after more than a decade and after being defeated by Republican Greg Baca. He was first elected out of Valencia County in 1992.

The Sanchez brothers will be remembered as part of a legendary political clan. Their father, Gillie Sanchez, who died in 1999, carved the path for them. As reporter Steve Terrell wrote a couple of years ago:
Raymond Sanchez

Gillie Sanchez served as a magistrate judge in Valencia County for 28 years and was a member of the Belen School Board for 31 years. (Gil Sanchez Elementary School in Jarales, south of Belen, was named in his honor.) Gillie Sanchez was on the Belen City Council for many years. And he was president of the Belen Chamber of Commerce.

Gillie Sanchez was a businessman as well as a politician. He owned Gil’s Bakery and Restaurant in Belen for 40 years. “Eventually, everyone ended up at Gil’s Bakery. It became a political melting pot,” Raymond Sanchez told Julia M. Dendinger of the Valencia County News Bulletin in 2013.

And the Sanchez family’s political involvement goes back even deeper. On Raymond and Michael’s mother’s side, their grandfather Abelicio Blas Sanchez, served as a state representative in the 1920s and was a Belen city marshal and, in 1933, the sheriff of Valencia County.

And so goes the never ending book of La Politica in which you will find a well-thumbed chapter on the Sanchez brothers (and their father) of Belen, New Mexico.

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