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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Torrez File; City Crime Wave Puts New DA On Defensive, Plus: Another Oil Price Plunge Puts State Budget On Notice, And: Ex-Guv Mabry Figures In For Our Contest Winner 

DA Torrez
Raul Torrez has taken over but is he taking responsibility? That's the question as the new Bernalillo County District Attorney runs for cover from the headlines that are shouting about how the crime wave ravaging the city has now landed us the title of "Stolen Car Capital of America."

Torrez asserts the major cause of that and other rising crime is a case management order from the NM Supreme Court that puts too tight a deadline on the DA for making his cases against the crooks in court. Thus, he argues, many cases are being dismissed by the judges and you get a crime wave conducted mainly by repeat offenders. Pretty simple, right? Well, not to the Torrez critics who are starting to pile on now that the new DA has had six months in office to show his stuff. JJ Naranjo of Santa Fe is one of them and he writes to Torrez on social media:

So how hard is it for your prosecutors or their assistants to immediately send a request for evidence as soon as a case is accepted in your office? You don't have to wait for anything since you already know that defense attorneys are winning on discovery issues. First you said you would ignore other criminal cases and just target repeat offenders and now you just can't meet deadlines? Sounds like your deflecting and just full of excuses. Take some responsibility or maybe you can place it on a panel of other DA's across the state like you did for a decision on re-trying (APD officers) Sandy and Perez in the Boyd murder case... Put your big boy pants on and do your job already!

Torrez, touted as a rising Dem Party star (the Udall Senate seat someday?), has a tar baby on his hands with this unrelenting crime wave.

In a controversial decision he earlier announced and that was referenced by Naranjo, Torrez said the resource challenged DA's office would no longer prosecute low-level crimes in favor of concentrating on violent and repeat offenders. But that got a thumbs down from many victims of property crime that is rampant throughout the city--all of which is not being conducted by "repeat offenders."

Torrez took easy street to the DA's office, failing to draw a Republican foe and winning unopposed. But now he's swimming against the rapids as he puts himself on the defensive, blaming the judges and targeting only a part of the crime wave. He may end up being right but right now he's in a very sticky place indeed.

DOWN AGAIN

Here we go again. The price of oil this week is plunging below the state's target of about $48 a barrel, threatening yet another shortfall when the budget year beings July 1st. For each dollar drop in the price it's estimated state coffers lose as much as $10 million. The price for West Texas oil on the futures market was around $43 Wednesday.

With oil down, a Republican Governor opposed to increasing revenues and her Dem opposition refusing more budget cuts, the band-aid approach to budgeting that has become the new normal seems destined to continue at least until a new Governor takes over in 2019. Or until oil goes back to a hundred bucks a barrel.

GETTING OFFICIOUS

That bid for the ABQ congressional seat by former State Rep. Janice Arnold Jones that we told you about a week or so ago is now official. She is the first Republican to announce a candidacy for a seat that is ranked "likely Dem."

MAYOR WATCH

Reader Billy Jimenez writes:

I am a local attorney and long-time reader. I want to invite you to an Albuquerque mayoral campfire this Saturday called "Warm Cookies for the Soul: A Community Campfire to Discuss Mental Health and Addiction with Albuquerque’s Mayoral Candidates." The Campfire will be held on June 24 at Rude Boy Cookies (115 Harvard Dr SE #7) from 2pm to 5pm.

In a city with an abundance of behavioral and substance abuse problems, Michael Silva (owner of Rude Boy) and I offer the community a chance to talk about solutions to these problems with the mayoral candidates. And we aim to do this in the most inviting way possible: sitting down over milk and cookies. The goal is to make the candidates accessible at a family friendly event and promote community. A portion of the proceeds from cookie sales will be donated to the Albuquerque Center for Hope and Recovery, of which I am a board member.

Good for you, Billy. One of the positive early developments in the mayoral race is the number of forums we're having. The community is rising to the occasion.

AND THE WINNER IS. . . 

Gov. Mabry
The answer was a former Governor so it was no shock that our readers were pretty much all over the question as to who was the first New Mexico politico to serve as the state's chief executive, a member of the legislature and as a NM Supreme Court Justice. That was an easy bar to hop for many readers, including Sam Thompson, John Schroeder, Mark Valdez, Valerie Kimble, Jeffrey Baker, Orlando Lucero and Manuel Tijerina. They correctly identified Gov. Thomas Mabry as the holder of the three titles as did Isaac Romero who wins the two tickets valued at $170 to this Friday's Vintage ABQ Grand Tasting.

My response to your Vintage ABQ contest question is Thomas Mabry. However, he wasn’t a native new Mexican. He was born in Kentucky and served as the supreme court Chief Justice, in the senate, and as governor. 

Another popular submission was Gov. Ed Mechem. That was the response from Joe Campos and Frank Armijo among others, but while Republican Ed served in the state House and was several times elected Governor, he later served as a federal judge and never served on the NM Supreme Court.

(Mechem) also served in the US Senate when in 1962 he stepped down as Governor and was appointed to fill the vacancy left by the death of Dem US Senator Dennis Chavez. He was defeated by Joe Montoya when he sought election to the seat in 1964.)

Finally, several readers said the answer was Gov. Jack Campbell. He was an attorney but never served on the Supreme Court, although he did serve a stint as Speaker of the NM House. Jack was elected Governor twice--in '64 and '66.

And we need to give him credit for this contest. We were thumbing through his autobiography and there on page 194 was his mention of Gov. Mabry and how he had become the first to serve in all three branches of government. Thanks for the fun, Jack. (The book is available through the UNM Press.)

Thanks to all who submitted answers and to Vintage ABQ for making two sets of free tickets available as the drumbeat of La Politica continues to beat away.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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