Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pearce And Heinrich Have Memorable Weeks And Prompt Thoughts Of NM's DC Role, Plus: More From The ABQ Crime Front, And: Your Chance To Win Vintage ABQ Tickets 

Heinrich and Pearce
What a week for Steve Pearce and Martin Heinrich. Pearce was among US House  Republicans at that park where a gunman fired round after round Wednesday, critically wounding a GOP congressional leader and sending Pearce to Facebook to describe what had to be one of the most traumatic events he's ever been involved with.  Pearce flew supply missions during the Vietnam war and must have thought he left the threat of bullets far behind. Not so in today's troubled USA.

Senator Heinrich had another solid week at Senate Intelligence Committee hearings. His declaration that Attorney General Sessions "was impeding" the investigation into Russian ties to the administration went viral and made him a hero for the day among the left.

Pearce and Heinrich's foray into the national spotlight was a bit unusual for them, but New Mexicans are used to seeing their DC representatives there. Former Senator Pete Domenici was a constant national presence on budget matters. Astronaut turned NM Senator Jack Schmitt was a national figure even before being elected in 1976. More recently northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan has made a national splash, appearing on various media in his role as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And former NM Gov. and Congressman Bill Richardson was again on national TV this week discussing the latest on North Korea.

But fame doesn't necessarily equal power. And that's the modern day problem for our state. Federal funding that began to plunge with the onset of the Great Recession has not recovered. Sandia Labs in ABQ, a key economic driver, grows slowly. And a new funding threat to Los Alamos National Labs funding has just emerged. Then there's the proposal to downsize the federal/state Medicaid program, the expansion of which has provided one of the few economic bright spots here.

With the Senate seniority of Domenci and Jeff Bingaman long gone and congressional earmarks too, federal funding, which built this place into a modern state, is pretty much in a "what you see is what you get" mode. New Mexico will always be a key player in national security with its labs and military bases but the days of steady and assured growth are probably gone forever.

Pearce and Heinrich reminded us this week that we have an able and dedicated congressional delegation, but it was also a reminder that that the overwhelming federal role here and our congressional power have been greatly diminished.


It seems just about everyone in ABQ has a crime tale to tell, and that includes reader Elaine Romero:

Speaking of car thefts and organized crime: my second vehicle was stolen from an elementary school - middle of the day - children in the classrooms! It was recovered 30 days later at a casino filled with stolen ID's including passports, government checks, and a counterfeit money-making machine. I was told that I had 24 hours to pick it up or I would be responsible for the storage yard charges. I was told everything in it now belonged to me. Of course I refused to touch it and demanded police deal with the contents. I met them there the following day where one officer told me their warehouse was overflowing with confiscated items and they had no staff or budgets to catalog items. He also said, "there's something about this case that I just can't put my finger on". Enchanting, right?

Soon there will be a new mayor in charge of this mess. Speaking of which. . .


The Bernalillo County Democratic Party will sponsor an ABQ mayoral forum tonight and we'll be the moderator so stop by and say hello. It will be at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Hall 510 San Pedro Dr SE from 5:45pm - 7:00 pm. And don't worry Republicans, at least one of your hopefuls will be there. The election is October 3.


We've got a wonderful night in store for some lucky blog readers.

Courtesy of Vintage ABQ, we're giving away two free tickets to the June 23rd Grand Tasting at the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. These tickets go for $85 each and no wonder: "More than 30 wineries pour over 100 wines with local restaurants cooking up perfect complements for your culinary pleasure, truly a mouthwatering culinary extravaganza!"

So how to attend this night to remember free of charge? Well, we can't make it too easy, given the level of this prize. So answer this question first and you will be the lucky winner:

What Bernalillo County politician since the 1970's was the only one to serve on the ABQ city council, the Bernalilo County commission and in the NM state Senate? And what was that politician's party affiliation while serving in each capacity?

Good luck with that. Email your answers. Relatives, friends and Alligators associated with the politico are obviously ineligible. You know who you are. If that question turns out to be too tough, don't worry. We'll have another pair of tickets to give away next week.

Of course, feel free to buy your tickets at Vintage ABQ for the Grand Tasting or the other fine dinner and wine events that kick off June 21. Your purchase will benefit this:

Vintage Albuquerque is an independent 501C3 non-profit charitable organization chartered to raise money to support arts education for New Mexico students. Vintage Albuquerque has raised money for the Albuquerque Museum Foundation, Albuquerque Youth Symphony, Arts in the School, APS Fine Arts Program, New Mexico Jazz Workshop, New Mexico Philharmonic, Popejoy Hall, NDI-New Mexico, and others.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Politicos Kicking Up '18 Campaign Trail Dust; What Will John Do? Plus: Readers Pull Us Back To ABQ's Crowded Crime Beat 

Here's the dust from the the '18 campaign trail we're tracking for you. . .

Lt. Governor John Sanchez is burnishing his foreign policy credentials ahead of what is expected to be a run for the US Senate or a congressional seat. He's heading up a local delegation that is visiting China to promote trade. Sanchez has been openly criticizing Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich at public events and looks to be preparing to join ABQ businessman Mick Rich in seeking the GOP nomination to take on Heinrich who is seeking his second, six year term.

However, if Sanchez gets nervous over a senate bid (and he might be) he could make a play for the GOP nomination for the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Dem Rep. Lujan Grisham who is running for Governor. Then there is a bit of strange talk about Sanchez running for the southern congressional seat if Rep. Pearce vacates the seat and runs for Governor. But Sanchez doesn't even live in the district. He lives in ABQ. Oh well, after seven years with Susana, you can forgive John if he seems beside himself on what to do with his political future--if he has one.


A possible Sanchez challenge isn't making Heinrich shy. As we blogged recently he is a big supporter of Dem land commissioner candidate Garret VeneKlasen and was expected to advocate for him. But Heinrich has taken it a step further and publicly endorsed VeneKlasen who is locked in a primary battle with former Dem Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Jr. Says Heinrich:

There is no one I would trust more to be the steward of our state trust lands and to make smart and sustainable contributions to New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund. Most importantly, at this critical time for our state, Garrett knows that investing in early childhood education is not a luxury, but rather a necessity. This is why I am endorsing Garrett VeneKlasen for Commissioner of Public Lands. I trust Garrett to do the right thing for our land, our kids and our future.

Powell recently told us he is switching his position on the proposed constitutional amendment to fund very early childhood education. He has previously been skeptical of the proposal to tap the $16 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education but is now in favor. Sen. Heinrich and VeneKlasen are longtime backers of the amendment which if approved by the Legislature would be put to the voters.

The Heinrich endorsement is going to mean cash for VeneKlasen's campaign coffers and will vault him from being an unknown to a known quantity in Dem circles. With Heinrich putting his nose under the tent, the VeneKlasen-Powell face-off is going to be a race to watch.


So if Rep. Steve Pearce decides not to run for the '18 GOP Guv nod, who will? That's the question keeping the GOP up at night. Party insiders are now floating the name of Steve McKee, the ABQ advertising executive who last year toyed with the idea of running for mayor but took a pass. They're now saying McKee could be a possible if Pearce declines. The others on the party radar for a Guv run include PRC Commissioner Pat Lyons and Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. Lujan Grisham and Jeff Apodaca are the two announced Dem hopefuls.


We're always pleased to strike a chord or two when we blog, and so it was the case with Tuesday's entry about the ABQ crime epidemic and our city's newly infamous title of "Stolen Car Capital of America." Reader Mike Santullo writes:

Your blog was succinct, introspective and right to the point. You hit on all cylinders and made the most salient points you could possibly make. Glad to see you spared no one. It's about time we hear some outrage! Everyone in power in this town is asleep at the switch and more concerned with preserving their so-called legacies and political agendas, not the welfare and safety of the people. It is embarrassing, humiliating and totally unacceptable and must stop immediately. The Albuquerque Journal needs to take the bull by the horns and start naming names and stop being the house organ for the entrenched GOP in this state. Enough of the pussy footing. It needs to start writing strong editorials condemning the lack of leadership and action in this city. Enough is enough.

Reader Ron Nelson came with this:

Outstanding, Joe, way to drive the nail home. I took an upper level criminology class my senior year in 1975. We talked about the local crime and car thefts, as they dominated the scenario back in those days also. Your reader has hit the nail on the head--there is organized crime driving these issues. A profound point from my professor was, if law enforcement can’t seem to put a dent in the statistics, perhaps they are part of the problem?

The crime wave is personal and painful for thousands of city residents. We hear them, as in this missive from a Huning-Highland resident who has suffered repeated financial and emotional loss. She writes of having a trailer stolen from her front drive:

My husband and I have lived in our home for 30 years and never before have I been afraid in my own home as I have been the past couple of years. There are so many reasons Albuquerque has such high crime statistics and in my opinion almost all of them can be attributed to Mayor Berry and his administration. His "hands off" way of running or not running our city has caused Albuquerque to become a place I am not familiar with anymore.

You cannot run a city if you're not in touch with what's really going on. I have a great deal of respect for the police, but they can only do so much with what they have to work with. I really miss the Albuquerque I fell in love with.

By the way, this is the 3rd vehicle stolen from us this year. We have a business that requires delivering product and we have always thought is was safer to park them at our home in our safe neighborhood!

"I really miss the Albuquerque I fell in love with." What more needs to be said? Or can be said?


Don't forget Vintage ABQ this year. The annual fine food and wine event raises funds for arts education in the ABQ schools and is always a big hit. It features the best in epicurean delights from the city's top restaurants and wineries.  Click on the ad for more info on the many events available for your enjoyment. And join us here tomorrow when we give you the chance to win tickets to the Vintage ABQ Grand Tasting. Hey, we're here to serve. . .

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Welcome To The Stolen Car Capital Of America; Why Is The City Still Asleep At The Wheel? Plus: Martinez Ship Jumping Gets Underway  

Berry and Eden
Forget about the economy. Forget about that sick leave ordinance. Forget about ART.

There is one and only one issue in the 2017 race for mayor of Albuquerque--the lawlessness that has beset the city and the continuing destruction of its police force. The crime wave here is jarring, relentless and long ago scotched any hopes for major economic development in the foreseeable future. The latest:

More than 27 vehicles a day. More than 10,000 for the year. That’s how many vehicles were reported stolen from Albuquerque and neighboring counties in 2016, according to a recent report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The bureau reported the Albuquerque area had the highest per-capita rate of auto thefts in the country.

Worst in the nation for auto theft and the city in second place isn't even close! The shock is that the citizenry is still not yelling from their rooftops over the colossal failure and incompetence of the city's leadership to reign in the thieves, murderers, drag racers and meth heads that have made the city something akin to a dusty border town with a corrupt police department and a puppet mayor and city council.

The soaring murder rate, the auto theft epidemic, the freeways run amok, the constant break-ins at area businesses and homes and the widespread vandalism have given this city a damnable reputation.

The blame is everywhere but still there is no accountability for:

---The mayoral administration of Richard Berry and Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry presiding over the mayhem while evading responsibility for the disintegration of law and order.

--The police department led by an ineffectual Gorden Eden and cordoned off by an upper command staff at war with its own citizenry and stifling accountability to the bitter end.

--The flaccid, fearful and forlorn nine member city council which has not a member on it that has stepped forward to lead the way out of this jungle, even as the mayor has abdicated.

--The see-no-evil business community represented by the Economic Forum, the ABQ Chamber of Commerce, NAIOP and the like which join with the agenda driven newspaper to prop up the Republican mayor at all costs--no matter the cost to the welfare of this once on-the-go metropolis.

Newsman Dan Rather opined over the bizarre politics in DC: "We are failing to be outraged by the outrageous." That could be the bumper sticker for the current state of politics in our state's largest city. It's as if everyone is overdosing on Xanax.

In about 90 days early voting will get underway in the ABQ mayoral election. It will be our last, best chance to turn this city around, but only if the candidates are subjected to the accountability that we have so maddeningly allowed to elude those currently in power.


In the wake of the news that we are the stolen car capital of the USA, a comment from James Uberman on Facebook scolding the media stood out:

This is reporting?? Where are all these cars going. This is not a few individuals, this is an industrial operation. Are the Mexican Cartels involved? Notice the #2 city is just up I-25. There is a major organized crime ring behind this but no reporting on that.

Good question, James. Maybe the media, along with the district attorney, mayor and police chief might want to start asking the same?

The relationship between APD and the various oversight panels watching over the troubled agency continues to plumb new lows with police stonewalling the order of the day. And APD's war room mentality now extends to the media. Take a look:

An important editor's note: Ordinarily, KOB would reach out to APD for comment on this sort of story prior to a newscast, or prior to publishing on KOB.com. However, in recent months, that courtesy has resulted in KOB content being distributed to other news outlets by the Albuquerque Police Department. To maintain the integrity of our content, our management has decided to reach out to APD for comment at the first opportunity on Saturday. We will share the department's response with you then.

What in the name of Harry Kinney is going on in this town? If any of the eight mayoral candidates refuses to pledge to oust the current chief and all of the APD upper command staff, they ought to be taken over to Old Town Plaza where spectators could throw leftover enchiladas at them.


Watch for the splashes from the ship jumpers to get even bigger. NM Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, who lost out recently on a high level job in the federal education department, announces that she's resigning from the Martinez administration this month. She's joined by the Governor's press aide Chris Sanchez. Martinez's term doesn't conclude until the end of next year but with the news ahead looking bleak, the ship jumping seems to be starting earlier than usual.

Skandera will be remembered as contentious, abrasive, bullying and an ideologue. The same goes for Sanchez but worse. He debased the communications office and the political dialogue by calling legislators "disgusting" and other such niceties as he refused to talk to news organizations critical of the Governor. At least Skandera took public policy seriously. For Sanchez, the campaign never ended as Jay created an attack dog with only one switch: attack and vilify. Sanchez says he's moving out of state but the media did not report where. Yeah, spread that joy around.


Skandera is getting some credit for increasing graduation rates in the state but the weight of the evidence goes against her, asserts reader Phil Parker:

Skandera prioritized (politically useful) data over kids' basic needs, and told teachers who asked for her help that they were wrong about their own students. When teachers told her about problems they faced in their classrooms - kids who were hungry, or pregnant, or on drugs, or skipping school because they felt degraded for many different reasons - her responses were always pure weaselspeak. She never gave a straight answer in public, and I think that's because she was prioritizing the interests of private education companies. There was always something to hide, some issue her department wouldn't comment on. She was a pure ice-cold politician, and possibly a profiteer, and her kind is taking over everything.


Former ABQ State Rep, Rick Miera makes it official and becomes a candidate for the '18 Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. More on his campaign here. Taos educator Jeff Carr is the other announced lt. gov. candidate. ABQ State Senator Michael Padilla is also expected to run. There are no announced GOP lt. governor hopefuls. . .

The NM Republican Party was jolted Monday when it learned of the death of party spokesman--25 year old W. Tucker Keene. Said GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi:

He was a brilliant writer, tenacious promoter of our cause, keen political communicator and most importantly, a wonderful person. Tucker approached his work with great passion, enthusiasm and with a witty sense of humor.

Keene, a Massachusetts native, was found dead in his ABQ apartment. The cause is being determined by the medical examiner.

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

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