Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor  

Here they are in all their glory--or their infamy--just in time for your summer reading. It's the ABQ 2019 Mid-Year 2019 Crime Stats. They cover everything from traffic stops to auto burglary to homicides, The cops say crime is down in the city compared to the same time last year. You might ask how could it not be as ABQ has been crushed by historically high crime rates for several years.

Homelessness is another major problem for the state's largest city. Here's a pretty insightful column from Brie Sillerly of the NM Coalition to End Homelessness. She urges the proposed new homeless shelter for near downtown ABQ not be a permanent way station for the homeless but a gateway to secure them permanent housing.

Voters will be asked in November to approve $14 million for the homeless facility. A second phase will cost another $14 million On that point, shouldn't the BernCo legislative delegation be lining up in Santa Fe for for that second $14 million as the state's coffers overflow from oil boom money?

Back on the crime beat, for the first time in five years APD will conduct a gun buyback program in an effort to reduce the high rate of gun violence. City Councilor Pat Davis has put up $30,000 from his councilor-directed funds for the program which will be held tomorrow (Saturday) at Cesar Chavez Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Needless to say, but Lt. Adam Anaya says it: guns presented for payment must be unloaded and operable.


No one is asking yet so we'll go first. Aren't the massive multi-million dollar plans being proposed to renovate the long vacant historic railyards near downtown sounding a bit like the disastrous ART project on Central? Not even the consultants hired to draft the plans seem to have a good idea on exactly what the renovation should entail and even whether it would succeed. Another question. Would it be sacrilegious to suggest that most of the railyards should simply be torn down? Just 'askin.

(Wonder what all those candidates for City Council think?)


The first of what will be a stack of fundraising reports for the many Dem northern congressional candidates is circulating. Santa Fe County District Attorney Marco Serna's campaign says he raised $233,000.

The FEC reports will be made public July 15. Dem Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is leaving the seat to run for US Senate.

The NM GOP writes:

A new episode of Chairman Steve Pearce's radio show is available. Tune in to listen to lively discussion about critical issues facing the country and New Mexico. Click to listen:

The radio show is new but are the ideas?

While the Governors of New Mexico and Colorado debated the merits of their respective chile crops this week, we spotted this headline:

A Giant Leap for Española Chile, the First to be Grown in Space

When it comes to green chile New Mexicans will settle for nothing less than world and intergalactic domination. Nice try, Colorado.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Can Plame Avoid A Flame Out? Key Questions For Her Congress Candidacy, Also: US Senate Musings And Gambling With Guy  

Madrid and Plame
A key question in the race for the Dem nomination for the northern congressional seat is whether Valerie Plame will flame out?

The nationally known former CIA operative and author has two tasks to perform to keep her torch burning: First, demonstrate fund-raising strength in NM and nationally when her first federal campaign report is filed this month. Second, begin to show support among traditional northern Hispanic voters, not just the aristocratic Santa Fe Anglos who have rushed to her side in the early going.

To that second point, today's photo speaks. Plame is pictured over the July Fourth holiday with former NM Dem Attorney General Patrica Madrid, at 72 a member in good standing of the Dem Party Old Guard that has considerable sway in the north and which Plame badly needs entree to.

(Madrid has not endorsed a candidate in the crowded primary contest.)

The photo of Plame keeping Madrid close reminded us of one of the more sensational utterances in the history of La Politica. It was in 1994 when Madrid was the running mate of Dem. Gov. Bruce King. He was fighting a battle for northern New Mexico hearts with Republican Gary Johnson when Madrid let loose with this controversial war cry in Las Vegas, NM:

These Republicans are not our people – they are Anglos – they are newcomers – they don’t understand us – our language – our culture – they are here only to exploit our people and our land – you must vote Democratic!”

Here we are a quarter century later and the dividing lines Madird drew back then still exist today, except this time they are playing out in a Dem vs Dem primary with Plame at dead center.


In the race for the Dem nod for US Senate, the Alligators continue to mull over the outsized cash haul of Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in the April quarter ($1.1 million), compared to that of SOS Maggie Toulouse Oliver (222k). Here's a take we've heard more than once:

The numbers posted for the Senate race are not at all surprising.  Maggie suffers from something similar to presidential candidate Joe Biden. In this case, "I love Maggie but not for this race." You hear a lot of that about Joe, too. "I love Joe but. . ."

But Joe is still in the lead (at least in the polls) so maybe MTO doesn't mind being in his company.


Indian gambling is long-established in New Mexico but that doesn't mean the anti-gambling forces have dried up. ABQ's Dr. Guy Clark has stuck with his beliefs through thick and thin. He says:

Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico has upgraded to a new website with more functions and useful information like the recent story about the settlement between the state and Pojoaque Pueblo which would split up the $10 million in illegal revenue sharing held in an account from 2015 to 2017. The courts are allowing Pojoaque to keep 40% of the sequestered revenue. The new website can be accessed by clicking here.

Indian gambling revenue has been flat-lined for years. In the first quarter of 2012 the state Gaming Control Board reported the casinos' "net win" totaled about $195 million. In the first quarter of 2019, the net win was $202 million, a gain of less than four percent in seven years.

NM is taking in about $70 million a year in revenue sharing from the casinos. That's a drop in the bucket for a $7 billion state budget. If recreational marijuana is legalized in NM experts suggest a similar minimalist impact on the state's General Fund.

Meanwhile, the race to win the right to build the state's sixth and final racino is on a muddy track.

Back here tomorrow to wrap the week.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Legal Pot Twist: Will Prominent Senate Foe Switch Sides? Also: Beto And NM And Now Just A Matter Of Time For Sen. Martinez  

The next legislative session is better than six months away but already emotions are ramping up over the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana. Dem State Senator Clemente Sanchez of Grants, so far a reliable opponent of legalizing pot, took to Twitter to disagree with the ABQ Journal's coverage of his position during its report on MLG's annnouncement of a task force to study legalization. That report quoted Sanchez as saying:

Just because it’s in the platform doesn’t mean all the Democrats in the state support it.

In response to his own quote Sanchez came with this enigmatic tweet:

It’s very disappointing and upsetting that I get quoted in the Albuquerque Journal when I haven’t spoken to any reporter on this issue for at least three years.

Journal capitol bureau chief Dan Boyd, author of the article, then tweeted back at Sanchez:

Hi senator, that quote was from an interview we did last year. Have your feelings on the issue changed since then?

Sanchez did not respond to the question but the conservative lawmaker is expected to face a stiff challenge in next year's Democratic primary. Both the party and the Governor are in favor of legal weed. If Sanchez were to switch sides it could be a major factor in how the bill fares next year.


He doesn't seem to have deep support here yet but former El Paso congressman and Dem presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has considerable ties to our enchanted land as revealed in this recent profile:

--Beto O’Rourke was running for the El Paso City Council in 2005 when he asked to meet with the illustrious real estate investor William Sanders. Sanders had earned a fortune and a reputation as a brilliant businessman in Chicago before returning to his remote hometown on the West Texas-Mexico border.

--The same year O’Rourke won his city council seat, he married Amy on the sprawling Sanders family ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The former punk rocker said he and Sanders didn’t get along well at first but that he eventually became close to his hard-charging father-in-law,

--After growing up in El Paso and attending Cornell University, Sanders, now 77, founded and built the company that became the renowned La Salle Partners in Chicago. It was a one-stop shop for some of America’s largest corporations for acquiring and managing buildings, land and property. He sold his stake in La Salle in 1989 and left for New Mexico, where his daughter Amy spent most of her childhood.


Sen. Martinez
It shouldn't be long now as MLG pushes Sen. Richard Martinez but does not yet shove:

MLG says no one is above the law and that elected officials should be held to a higher standard. . . when asked whether state Sen. Martinez's constituents would be better served if he resigned. Martinez, a Democrat from Espanola, was accused of drunken driving after crashing into another vehicle June 28. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated DWI. Without calling for Martinez's resignation, Lujan Grisham said she hopes the longtime lawmaker thinks about his position as chair of the Senate judiciary committee as well as the message that the case sends to a community besieged by crime related to alcohol and drugs.

MLG knows it, you know it and I know it. Martinez's position in the Senate is untenable. And soon he should know it. Besides, Dem State Rep. Susan Herrera is standing by as a worthy replacement.

The Dems and Party Chair Elliston are remiss, however, in not having a number of them call directly for Martinez's resignation as the Governor continues pushing but not shoving him out the door.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

US Supremes Gerrymander Ruling Could Impact NM And A McCleskey Sighting In ABQ Council Election  

New Mexico has an all blue congressional delegation but Democrats fret about how to keep it that way. The southern congressional district is their weak link. That's where freshman Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small was elected in 2018, but her grasp on the conservative district is fragile. Now comes this US Supreme Court ruling that could embolden the Dems to shore up the Torres Small seat when the 2021 redistricting comes:

The conservative justices ruled that federal courts have no role to play in the dispute over the practice known as partisan gerrymandering. The decision could embolden political line-drawing for partisan gain when state lawmakers undertake the next round of redistricting following the 2020 census.

Job one for Torres Small is to get re-elected next year, a feat no Democrat has pulled off in the south in decades. But if she does the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling could prod the Dem-controlled legislature into drawing friendlier lines for the new southern CD. That would have Torres Small and her Dem brethren breathing easier. It would also be a major step toward ensuring an all blue delegation for at least a decade.


Jay McCleskey, the controversial top political adviser to Gov. Martinez, has flown under the radar since her term ended January 1 but Republicans in ABQ City Council District 4 report there has now been a sighting. According to the latest campaign finance report, McCleskey Media Strategies was signed by GOP Council candidate Brook Bassan to produce 1,000 hands cards and 5,000 door hangers at a cost of $2,922.

That's small potatoes for McCleskey who pushed around millions on behalf of Martinez, but it still gets under some GOP skins who don't forget how he primaried fellow R's when he was with Martinez.

According to the Voter File checked by our Alligators, Bassan was a Dem who recently registered as an R. She is seeking the seat long held by retiring GOP Councilor Brad Winter who has close ties to McCleskey and Martinez. The hiring of McCleskey is seen as confirmation by some R's that Winter, who announced late his decision not to run, is trying to hand off the district to Bassan.

There are four candidates seeking the seat, including Dem Ane Romero, who along with Bassan is seen as a leading contender. If no candidate gets 50 percent at the November election there will be a run-off between the top two.


This is correcting the correction made by reader and columnist Harold Morgan, says reader Matt Biggs:

Joe, if your readers are going to nit-pick, let's make sure they use the right numbers. Mr. Morgan is using per capita household income. According to the census the per capita income per New Mexican is $25,257.

The dispute arose when Dem US Senate candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver used the $25,000 per capita income figure. The "household" per capita figure cited by Morgan is $39,811.

State Senator Joe Cervantes wrote here Tuesday that there was no legislative "analysis" of a bill (SB 324) that would reform the capital outlay process. Reader Vanessa Hawker says there is a fiscal impact report on the measure and it is here.

In our first draft Monday the deletion of a single letter had Dem State Senate candidate Carrie Hamblen of Las Cruces as a "he" instead of a "she" and the link to her facebook did not function for a time. Here it is.

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Monday, July 08, 2019

State Senate President Draws Foe #2, More Capital Outlay Criticism And Margaritas And Enchiladas 

She says she hasn't made her mind yet up about seeking another four year term but if she does dive in to the race, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen will have at least two Democratic primary opponents:

Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce announced  a bid for Senate District 38, now held by longtime lawmaker Sen. Mary Kay Papen. . . Hamblen, 51, hosted a kickoff event at a private home near Pioneer Women's Park in Las Cruces. She'll seek the Democratic nomination, challenging Papen. Another candidate, Tracy Perry, CEO of Direct Therapy Services, also has announced she's seeking the party's nomination to the same seat.

Papen will turn 89 before next year's June primary and it seems the natives are getting restless for change. However, if she keeps drawing opponents who could split the anti-Papen vote, the Pro Tem could give it one last shot. Perry and Hamblen, who is active in the LGBQT community, appeal to progressives hoping to end Papen's Senate career which began in 2001.

 Senate District 38 is solid D. No R's need apply.


Back on that proposed capital outlay commission that would rank infrastructure projects by importance before the money was approved, Dem State Senator Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces writes:

Senate Bill 324 introduced this past session would have reformed and brought some process to spending hundreds of millions but it never received a hearing in the Rules Committee. You will not even find an analysis of the bill because the entrenched process is sacrosanct. The reform attempt just gathered dust. Apart from Senators I can count on one hand, there is a consistent unwillingness to bring sensibility to an embarrassing process. Second only to tax reform, this is a huge priority and a problem which politicians won’t even acknowledge. And it’s a problem with a solution. A commission is not the way. Legislators are elected to appropriate public funds. But creating special commissions and task force committees is the default approach when politicians lack the courage to do what they should but want the appearance of doing something.


Reader and veteran NM columnist Harold Morgan writes: 

Joe: On July 3 you quoted Secretaty of State and Dem US Senate candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver as saying, "Bragging about raking in more than a million dollars shows how out of touch the Congressman has become having lived in D.C. for more than a decade. The per capita income for a New Mexican is $25,000."  The correct per capita income figure, for 2017, is actually $39,811. The number comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Reader Peter Ives writes of our blog about the upcoming elections in Roosevelt and Curry Counties to permit alcohol sales in areas of the counties that remain dry:

Joe, Regarding alcohol sales (6/25), the larger problem is that the state made the a huge error in separating the licensing of beer and wine from spirits. The consequence is that it is almost impossible to get a real (tequila) Margarita in a Mexican restaurant in NM unless they can afford the hugely expensive spirits license. Only the largest or well-funded chains can manage that. 

The law needs to be changed to have one single liquor license for our restaurants and cafes. A special license for bars and package stores could be required for that category. The latter will not lose any business for folks wanting a Margarita with their enchiladas. I recently returned from a road trip and noticed that in many of the states I passed through, I could get cocktails in ordinary restaurants and cafes. I even stopped at a coffee shop in the small town of St Francis, Kansas that had a shelf of spirits.  Why is NM so backward? 

Well said, Peter. We bet the margarita/enchilada combo was on the Ives' Fourth of July menu.

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