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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

ABQ Crime Wave Washes Over City's Wealthy Neighborhoods, State Budget Debacle Goes On And On, And: At The Alligator Pond Talking Up '18 Scenarios 

Clutch your jewelry tight all you denizens of affluent Sandia Heights, Tanoan and Four Hills. The ABQ crime wave is washing up on your shores:

Albuquerque police say three children were killed and their mother is in critical condition after a gunman shot them when they arrived home Monday night. Investigators believe the 45-year-old man forced his way into the home and waited for the mother and the children. The victims included a 5-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. The gunman was taken to the hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and later died. Authorities believe the man had a short relationship with the mother. 

It has gotten so bad in the tony Sandia Heights subdivision in the foothills that residents of the gated community are talking about hiring their own private police force. What does that tell you about the police officer shortage? By the way, Mayor Berry lives in Four Hills where a number of high-profile crimes have rocked the once sedate, wealthy enclave. Keep those bars on your windows, Mr. Mayor.

All this will soon be fodder for the '17 mayoral campaign. We're surprised there already isn't a strong law and order candidate out there banging the drum. It won't be long.

BUDGET DEBACLE (CONT.)

Republicans tried to turn the October special session of the legislature into an "all crime all the time" event, even as the state budget continued to hemorrhage. Lawmakers finally managed to put a band-aid on the bleeding budget, but now the deep wound is gushing again, giving us what we believe to be the worst and longest budget debacle in modern state history. The latest:

New Mexico expects to collect far less revenue this budget year and next than previously forecast as employment, wages and economic growth lag, a group of state economists said Monday. The economists from three executive agencies and the Legislature said the state will collect $109 million less during the current budget year than last year. The forecast indicates spending is likely to eat through all the state's reserve funds and require another $69 million if changes are not made.

And those are probably low ball numbers, as the Santa Fe economists have been about as accurate as the pollsters in the Trump Clinton race.

Yes, the energy price crash is brutal but don't forget a decade of over zealous tax cutting that also helped crash state revenue.

This epic political mismanagement (by both parties but more recently by the Governor and her fellow Republicans) has led to a downgrade in the state's bond rating, employee layoffs and disruption of state services. But as we wrote Monday, it will apparently have to get a lot worse before the public takes much notice. Meanwhile, Santa Fe will continue to wander in the fiscal wilderness with no way out in sight.

THE ALLIGATOR POND

Now to the Alligator pond where we first find self-described "(Drained) Swamp Gator." He says (correctly) that a reader post here Monday left the impression that a US House seat could be filled by gubernatorial appointment. It cannot. A member of the US House--the people's House--must always be elected. Which brings us back to the original plot line. . .

If Senator Tom Udall were to run and become Governor in 2018, he would appoint a successor to fill out the unexpired two years of his Senate term. If he chose ABQ Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham for that job that would leave a vacancy in her ABQ House seat (assuming she ran successfully for election in 2018). The Grisham vacancy would be filled at a special election within 90 days of her resignation. As (Drained) Swamp Gator points out:

This is what happened when ABQ Congressman Steve Schiff passed away in 1998. It  created a vacancy during the run up to the scheduled 1998 race between Republican Heather Wilson and Dem state Senator Phil Maloof. We actually had two overlapping campaigns and elections that year, one to fill the vacancy for the remaining months of Schiff's term and another for the succeeding two year term to start in January of 1999. The special election for the remaining months on Schiff's term was held in June of 1998 and Republican Wilson won. And she beat Maloof again in the November election to earn a full two year term. 

All of this is not to say that Udall and Grisham are about to cut a deal to trade off his Senate seat in exchange for her staying out of the Guv's race. Far from it. There is reason to believe there is plenty of tension between the two, (Just look at that photo we ran of the pair Monday.)

So when was the last time a New Mexico US Senator was appointed? It was in 1962 when Democratic Sen. Dennis Chavez died. Gov. Edwin Mechem (R) resigned and then was appointed by lis lieutenant governor to the vacant Senate seat but Mechem lost the 1964 election. The winner of that election? Democrat Joe Montoya who served until his defeat by Republican Harrison "Jack" Schmitt in 1976.

Now comes the self-described "Crockagator." He's not the first to give himself that title, only the latest. In any event, Crockagator has this to say about the surprise appointment of former Republican US Senator Pete Domenici to an advisory position under State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn:

Joe. I have been contemplating why Sen. Domenici would want to even think of working for Aubrey Dunn. I believe that Aubrey Dunn wants to be elected Governor and he needs someone of Domenici‚Äôs stature to get the deal done. Democrats helped elect Domenici and the Senator still has a lot of stroke in the north. I was a supporter of Aubrey Dunn's father when he ran for Governor as a Democrat and was upset when the senior Aubrey became a Republican. But I bet that young Aubrey wants to fulfill his dad's dream of a Governorship. 

Thanks, Crockagator. Recently, Commissioner Dunn told us that he was running for re-election to the land office in 2018 and not taking a run at the governor's office. But if not this cycle maybe the next one?

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