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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Less Than 50 Days To Go In '17 Mayor's Race; Where Things Stand Today, Plus: We Find A Gem In Our Summer Reading Pile  

Tim Keller
What sets them apart from Mayor Berry? That's one of the more provocative questions in a wide-ranging and in-depth question and answer session with the eight mayoral hopefuls in the October 3 election. The interviews that allowed for long-form responses were conducted by KOAT-TV. The station says it plans extensive coverage of the campaign prompted in part by the city's crime wave. The ABQ Free Press is also giving the candidates a lot of room to run as it quizzes them on a variety of issues.

With less than 50 days to go before the October 3 election and less than a month before early voting begins September 13, here's our analysis of where the '17 mayoral race stands right now. . .

Brian Colón
The odds that there will be two Democrats in the run-off that will likely occur Nov. 7 following the October 3 balloting appear to have increased some.

The three Republicans in the race--City Councilor Dan Lewis, BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson and businessman Ricardo Chaves may divide the GOP vote enough to prevent any one of them from finishing as one of the two top contenders who advance to the run-off which will occur if none of the eight candidates achieves 50 percent of the vote.

Lewis reports only $169,000 in cash on hand and Johnson has $208,000. The latest reports were filed with the city last week. Lewis was expected to break away more by this point while Johnson has exceeded fund-raising expectations. Chaves is financing his own campaign and is sitting on $373,000 in cash. Will he spend all or a large portion of it? If he does, that could further divide the GOP vote. Lewis spent handsomely on social media in the early going but his TV buy to reach the most likely voters who are over 55 is now critical. He could use more cash.

Insiders report Adam Feldman, who heads up the mail firm Red Tag Strategies and is a very close business associate of Jay McCleskey who heads the Guv's political machine, will be doing Johnson's mail campaign. There is no love lost between Lewis and the Berry/Martinez camp. If they accomplished nothing but stopping Lewis from taking the prize, they would probably celebrate.

Dan Lewis
Democrat Tim Keller still seems the most likely of all the candidates to finish in the top two. He has an extensive ground game and widespread union backing. A political action committee that will support him has $77,000 in cash on hand which will also give him a boost. He opted to take public financing and his campaign has $232,000 in cash. One of our Alligators with media ties reports that Keller will start his TV buy September 4. Given his cash status it will probably be steady but not heavy.

Democrat Brian Colón is certainly hoping that the Republican vote stays divided and that   he can pass Lewis in the polls and secure a run-off spot, even if it means finishing second to Keller. He is sitting on $535,000 in cash. His decision on how he will spend that money is imminent and will have a major say in the direction of this campaign in the final weeks.

A run-off between Keller and Colón would be more dangerous for Keller than if he were to face a Republican foe. The GOP brand under Mayor Berry is severely damaged and the electorate will be looking for change. A run-off with a Lewis or Johnson would make it easier for Keller to provide that contrast. But, like Keller, Colón would be a change candidate who is seen as more moderate than Keller. He could attract GOP support in a  run-off that could prove decisive.

ZUNIE TIME

We blogged erroneously yesterday that Republican Kelly Zunie would make her entry into the race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor on Wednesday. She will do so today at 5:30 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in ABQ.

SUMMER READING

Why it took us so many years to get to a book that more than lives up to its stellar reputation is a mystery. But this summer we finally met up with "Memoirs 1892-1969 A New Mexico Item" by William A. Keleher.

It is a marvelous read that filled in a lot of blanks for us about life and politics in early 20th century Albuquerque, the key events of state politics from that time and into the 50's. Keleher was a noted attorney but in the beginning of his career he was also a newspaper reporter and he commands a fluid and personable style.

For example, he delivers a gripping tale as he relates the 1935 closed door meeting with Gov. Clyde Tingley, Judge David Chavez, the brother of soon-to-be US Senator Dennis Chavez, and former Governor Arthur Hannett, a key ally of the Chavez family.

Chavez and Hannett had gotten wind that Tingley was considering appointing Judge John Field Simms to the US Senate vacancy created by the death of Senator Bronson Cutting who perished in a plane crash in May of 1935. But Cutting had only very narrowly defeated Democrat Chavez in 1934 and the Chavez's believed Democrat Tingley was obligated to appoint Dennis to fill the vacancy.

Writes Keleher:

Listeners who stationed themselves discreetly outside the doors of the Governor's inner office were horrified at some of the intemperate language which seeped through the door and over the transom; aghast at the threats and counter-threats of retaliation, astonished at the cajoling and wheedling on one side or the other. Finally the smoke and roar of battle cleared away and Governor Tingley emerged from his office, arm in arm with Hannett and Chavez. Spectator friends of Chavez observed: "It's all over. Tingley is going to appoint Dennis. . ."

As a NM political junkie the thought of being outside that door and the way Keleher brought home the naked verbal brawl for power took my breath away. I had to stop reading and reflect.

Chavez went on to become the most important US Senator in state history, serving until his death in 1962.

Keleher, who 100 years ago founded an ABQ law firm that still carries his name and remains prominent, wrote a number of books on NM history but none so personal and reflective as his memoirs about the state he loved and the players that built the foundation upon which it rests today. It's a heckuva a memoir from a heckuva guy who certainly earned his own chapter in the never ending book of La Politica.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Campaign Trail Dust: Not So Fast On GOP Lt. Gov. Nod; Race Developing, Latest Perceptions On Dem Guv Chase And Our Continuing Crime Wave Coverage 

Sen. Mark Moores
Hold on Kelly Zunie. Even if Rep. Steve Pearce, the presumptive '18 GOP gubernatorial nominee, appears to be in your corner as you announce your candidacy for the 2018 lieutenant governor nomination Thursday, there is trouble brewing for you behind the scenes.

Republican insiders say Zunie will not be crowned in a solo race and that a handful of other Rs are mulling over a bid. They include ABQ State Senator Mark Moores, Roswell area State Senator Cliff Pirtle and former State Senator Ted Barela of Estancia.

A GOP alligator familiar with the positioning of that trio is hopeful only one of them will take the dive, improving the chances of keeping Zunie at bay. She would be the first Native American to capture the GOP lieutenant governor nomination.

So enjoy your party today, Kelly, but watch your back. The long knives are being sharpened. . .

As for John Sanchez, the current GOP lieutenant governor, he is still on the fence when it comes to his political future. A run for Governor became impossible when Gov. Martinez's popularity plummeted and a run for the ABQ congressional seat looks doubtful as the district being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is seen as solidly blue. That would leave a tough battle for the US Senate against Dem Martin Heinrich in an election cycle that is not favoring the R's. A source close to the Lt. Governor says: "You'll be hearing from him on his decision sooner rather than later."

Well, right now what Republicans are hearing from Raton to Roswell is the loud sound of John gnashing his teeth. . .

We mentioned a social media video on education that Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca has produced but in doing so we made it seem as though the video noted his support for a constitutional amendment that would support very early childhood programs by allowing funding for them from the $16 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund. The video does not mention the amendment, but Apodaca is on the record as supporting the amendment.

Apodaca has made at least a slight dent in the perception that the Dem gubernatorial nomination is a foregone conclusion, with Rep. Lujan Grisham the obvious pick. That's due in part to the news broken here--and confirmed by Apodaca--that he has raised in the vicinity of $700,000 in the early going. That's not pocket change and combined with an aggressive early start it is keeping the Guv door open for him. State Senator Joe Cervantes is also in the race. His friends say he is willing to put $1 million of personal funds into the contest. If so, like Apodaca, he will have at least a foot in the door.

WHERE ARE THEY?

Who are the Republican candidates for attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and state treasurer? None, so far. And that means some work ahead for GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi.

NEW MEXIODUS

Longtime NM radio personality Larry Ahrens writes on our Facebook page about the city's crime crisis:

Joe, you mentioned that "everyone who wanted to move has left already." Anecdotal info here. But the conversations I'm having with many people indicate there may be another wave of folks preparing to depart NM for greener and safer pastures elsewhere. The rampant crime is driving this. Decisions are being made right now to get out. The exodus is far from over in my opinion.

THAT'S ALL?

Over in Dallas, they are bemoaning the increase in payouts for lawsuits involving their police department.

Records show that Dallas has spent almost $11 million in the past five years settling more than 20 lawsuits against police, a huge increase compared to the previous five years. The city spent less than $400,000 to settle less than 10 cases from 2006 to 2011, KDFW-TV reported . Dallas also currently has almost 40 unresolved liability claims against local police officers.

Heck, they don't know how good they have it. ABQ has paid out a startling $62 million in lawsuit payments over APD since 2010. When New Mexico does anything bigger than Texas, that's a problem.

FREE DINNER, PLEASE

And the mayoral forums continue to flow in. Readers have the info:

Thursday, August 17, 5:00 – 8:00 PM Fatpipe Mayoral Forum. Fatpipe ABQ Coworking Space, 200 Broadway Blvd NE. . . 

Joe, this one is sponsored by the local chapter of NAWBO, National Association of Women Business Owners. It happens Wednesday, August 16, 5:30 PM to 8 PM at Tanoan Country Club. It is a dinner and attendees have to buy a ticket.

You mean we have to buy a dinner ticket to see the wannabe mayors? How about we get contender Brian Colón to pick up the tab for all of us? He just reported he has $535,000 in cash on hand for the final six weeks of the campaign. Surely he could afford a few taco plates for the crowd wanting in? Oops, the event is at Tanoan. Okay, Brian, make that rib-eyes.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Mexico Paradox: Really Poor And Really Rich; New Report Shows Permanent Funds With Rising Riches, Plus: Susana's Second Term Slide, Covering For Berry; Newspaper Scored Over Who It Doesn't Mention And Native American Woman Appears Poised For GOP Lt. Gov Nod 

Is it a paradox, absurdity or both that New Mexico is simultaneously one of the richest and poorest states in the USA? The news that the Land Grant Permanent School Fund and the Severance Tax Permanent Fund have reached the staggering total of $22 billion raises questions--or should raise fundamental questions about the governance of our nearly last in everything disenchanted land.

Juxtaposing New Mexico's rank of 49th in child well-being, 49th in quality of education and 50th in poverty along side the vastness of richness represented by $22 billion should  have politicians and policy makers rethinking how this treasure could be repositioned. Specifically, how it can be put to work to lift up hundreds of thousands of undereducated and disadvantaged citizens and place them on a path that reverses the generational dysfunction that has so hampered this state's social and economic development.

To do that we'll need leadership that ditches the austerity rhetoric and policy. If we can first agree that money can solve many problems--particularly those facing a capital starved state with a rickety and slimly funded public education system--then we can get somewhere. The austerity hawks should demand and get accountability on how exactly we could deploy some of our billions in the bank. But the hawks must first agree that investing in anything involves some risk and they must at this critical juncture be willing to assume risk in exchange for accountability.

For example, take the tens of millions in tax dollars and tax breaks that the business boosters happily supported to attract corporations here like Intel, Hewlett Packard, Eclipse Aviation and the like. Those incentives sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, but a risk was taken in an effort to improve the state.

That same philosophy can be applied to the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the $16 billion land grant fund to supply roughly $120 million a year for ten years for very early childhood education (ages zero to five) which would include home visits and parental education. The amendment has passed the House but stalled in the Senate by chief austerity hawk John Arthur Smith and a handful of his acolytes.

Dem gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca, who has been busy touring the state this summer, comes with a social media video, saying the state is "cracked."  "Education," he says, "is the key to everything." Apodaca is in support of the constitutional amendment for very early childhood.

Sure, the permanent funds spin off interest and income to the state budget to the tune of over $900 million a year and its corpus must be protected over the long-term. But to let $22 billion sit there and not utilize a modest amount of that largess while this state loses its best and brightest and consigns future generations to more of the same demoralizing life circumstances is not only a financial issue, but perhaps the moral issue of our time. When will we act? When the funds are at $30 billion or $40 billion? Never?

SECOND TERM SLIDE

When it comes to New Mexico governors its all downhill in the second term. And Gov. Martinez is no different as her slide continues:

District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that the governor did not follow proper procedures in vetoing 10 bills — either because she took too long or did not provide an explanation with each vetoed piece of legislation.

This Senior Alligator says the veto decision is one of several developments that signal how the Governor's once vaunted political machine led by her political advisor Jay McCleskey is rusting out:

The Governor suffered a big defeat on the veto issue, the business community (the ABQ Chamber of Commerce) suffered a court loss on the proposed city sick leave ordinance and in response to the pummeling he's receiving on crime, Mayor Berry gets the Journal to write a lame story about his political-hack led study on crime in Albuquerque, News Flash! A lot of crime is Albuquerque is along Central Avenue and in 4 or 5 other areas of town. Who knew? It only took the Mayor 8 years to figure that out. Jay McClesky's finely-tuned machine is breaking down and his crowd is finding it more and more difficult to pull the levers of power in this state.

Let's dissect that some: The reference to the "political-hack led study" is to Scott Darnell, the director of ABQ i-team, which assisted with the geography crime analysis. Darnell is a former Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Martinez who dropped off the radar when he resigned that post, but has now popped up under Republican Mayor's Berry's wing.

The "lame article" was one in a series of articles the paper is currently running on the crime epidemic, but there's still no questioning in any of them of Mayor Berry, APD Chief Eden, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry or any of the nine members of the city council. The crime crisis is not simply a function of the criminal justice system. It is a failure of the political leadership that oversees the funding and policy of that system. But in its persistent determination--for whatever reason--to wall off responsibility from that leadership--this journalism fails in its fundamental responsibility to hold those in power accountable. But you already knew that.

One of the fatal flaws in the newspaper piece on the tremendous spike in armed robbery is how it attempts to assign blame to the State Supreme Court's controversial Case Management Order (CMO) dealing with the release of accused criminals. But the crime spike started in 2010 just as Berry took office, years before the CMO took effect. Some 'splainin to do there.

Also, does anyone think this free political pass the paper gives Berry and Company would be given if it were former Democratic Hispanic mayors Marty Chavez or Jim Baca presiding over such criminal chaos? As we've said many times before, they would be stringing them up in Old Town Plaza and selling breakfast burritos to the throng watching.

A TAME TORREZ

One aside from that crime series. BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez walked back his blanket condemnation of area judges for being the root cause of the crime wave. His new tack goes like this:

The entire criminal justice system is not properly resourced at every stage of the system.

The pushback against Torrez for trying to shift blame was strong enough to knock him to the ground. The on-the-job taming. . .er. . .we mean training. . . continues for the DA.

PRESS BASHING

Reader Kelley Dupont has a message for the newspaper editorial writers:

It irks me to no end how some are blaming the "liberal Democrats" for the problems our city and state are having. They blame years of Democrats in power, but fail to acknowledge that the Republicans have been in charge for the almost eight years this mess has emerged. Yes, perhaps Dems haven't always done the best job, but Republicans had their chance with the governorship and the ABQ mayor's office.  Their mismanagement at all levels has allowed hell into our city and state. Republicans need to own it and stop blaming "years and years of Democratic politics" for this mess that escalated, expanded and grew at great speed under their watch. Yes, Democrats are to blame as well, but come on. Part of fixing a problem is acknowledging one's part in it and stop blaming the other party while they (Republicans) have been in charge.

PEARCE AND ZUNIE

It appears GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce is gong to try to get a first in New Mexico politics. He's been talking up Kelly Zuni, the former state cabinet secretary for Indian affairs and who Thursday evening will announce her candidacy in ABQ Indian Pueblo Cultural Center  for the '18 GOP lieutenant governor nomination.

If the ticket is Pearce/Zunie--and so far she's the only GOP light Guv candidate--it would be a first for state Republicans. They've never nominated a Native American for a spot on their Guv ticket and no Native American has ever served as lt. governor. Native American Deb Haaland ran as the running mate of Dem Guv candidate Gary King in 2014 but they were defeated.

Here is some background info on Zuni from a news release from the governor's office when she was named to the cabinet:

Zunie grew up in New Mexico as a member of the Zuni Pueblo and currently serves as deputy cabinet secretary of the Indian Affairs Department. She becomes the first female to head that agency. Zunie has also served as a business analyst for Rocky Mountain Power in Utah. Zunie has an extensive background in professional training and experience in critical issues facing New Mexico’s Native American population, including public health, energy, and emergency management.

In the first round of speculation on who would be Pearce's running mate the name of another Native American fsurfaced--Dr. Richard Luarkie, the former Governor of Laguna Pueblo who Pearce has spoken highly of and who has a business background and is also African-American. But it now appears it will be Zunie will carry Pearce's banner into the north.

NEWMAN IN

Former Hobbs Mayor, realtor and former NM GOP Chairman Money Newman has made it official and confirmed our blog report that he was seriously eyeing a run for the GOP congressional nomination for the southern seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Steve Pearce. Newman, who previously ran for the nomination when the seat was last open in 2008 but came up short, announced his candidacy Monday:

Newman, who runs a real estate company, is the fourth GOP candidate vying for the seat that incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating next year in order to run for governor. “Congress has a courage problem,” Newman said: “The federal government has been broken and bloated far too long and the people we send to Congress must have the guts to fix it.”

Newman is the fourth R candidate to seek the nomination. The front-runner for the nod is State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr.

BILLY McKIBBEN

We were sorry to hear of the passing of former State Senator Billy McKibben, the colorful Republican who represented the Hobbs area for a twenty year run that ended in 2000 and after was a legislative lobbyist. He pushed hard for economic development for his big district and was influential in Hobbs getting a racino. McKibben died in Big Spring, Texas where he was involved in real estate development. He was 81.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Back On The Campaign Trail With The Land Office Face-Off, The Latest Endorsements And Even More Mayoral Forums  

The chase for the Dem nomination for NM Land Commissioner is more complicated now that Gallup area state Senator George Muñoz has joined the chase. Could he capture a large slice of the important Hispanic vote, leaving the two Anglo candidates--former Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Jr. and longtime environmentalist Garrett VeneKlasen coming up short? Muñoz, a conservative Dem, obviously thinks so.

The Munoz candidacy has to make freshman US Senator Martin Heinrich a bit nervous. He made the unusual play of endorsing political unknown VeneKlasen for the nomination, but if Muñoz takes the prize the land office would not be half as friendly to the enviro movement as Heinrich's pick would.

Powell was celebrating this news when the Muñoz candidacy threw some cold water his way:

Animal Protection Voters announced its endorsement of Ray Powell for Land Commissioner in 2018. . . Ray Powell’s record on serious animal protection and wildlife habitat conservation issues, both during and beyond his past tenure as Land Commissioner, reflects a deep commitment to caring for the health of New Mexico’s land, communities, and animals.

State Senators do not have to seek re-election until 2020 so this is a free ride for Munoz. The sole GOP contender is former Land Commissioner Pat Lyons. For the 18' general, the race is rated lean Dem.

TIS THE SEASON

Tis the endorsement season with the primary 10 months out and candidates scrambling to impress potential donors. In the crowded race (now 9 candidates) seeking the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat, we get this:

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez’ campaign for Congress announced the endorsement of national progressive leader, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “Antoinette’s career has been devoted to the pursuit of social and economic justice, and I know that she will stand with me and other Democrats in our fight for strong democracy and progressive change in America."

Raskin is Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

If endorsements in the ABQ mayor's race decided the contest Dem Tim Keller would win by a landslide, and he comes with another:

The Sierra Club announced has endorsed Tim Keller in the mayoral race. "Tim truly believes in the importance of environmental protection," said Richard Barish, the Political Chair of the Central New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club. "He understands that now, more than ever, it is important to do what we can to fight climate change at the local level.

Republican Ricardo Chaves, 81, isn't getting many endorsements but he says he has a number of ideas that set him apart from the 8 candidate pack:

Ricardo Chaves is the only candidate who will sell the city bus service to the private sector, saving $40 million a year. Ricardo Chaves is the only candidate who will sell the four city-owned golf courses, which are now losing $1 million a year.

In the race for Governor, veteran network newsman Sam Donaldson, 83, a native New Mexican who retired to ABQ four years ago, has endorsed Jeff Apodaca for the '18 Dem Guv nod. He does so in this video, saying:

Jeff Apodaca is the leader that I think should be our next governor. He has a plan as a successful businessman to try to solve all of our problems. And in addition to having a plan, he's the kind of leader who does not work to divide people, but to bring us together.

CRIME BEAT

Longtime reader Robert Palacoiz writes:

Joe, is there not an enterprising lawyer who would be willing to do a class action suit against the governor & mayor of Albuquerque for my increase in auto insurance of $220.00. They have failed the people of New Mexico, they have failed our wonderful state, and now, we are literally paying the price with increased auto insurance rates do to crime.

MORE FORUMS

We listed a number of mayoral forums on the blog this week and that brought more. This one will be held tonight at City Hall:

Police Oversight Mayoral Candidate Forum Hosted by Albuquerque PD in Crisis Thursday at 5 PM - 8 PM. City Hall 400 Marquette Ave NW.

And another:

Three Neighborhood Associations are co-sponsoring a Mayoral/District 7 City Council Candidate Q&A on Saturday, September 9, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Q and A will be moderated by the League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico.

And the group APD Forward has one slated:

We want you to be able to hear from the candidates running for mayor and learn how they will continue to restore trust between impacted communities and APD. September 6  from 6 pm - 7:30 pm at the African American Performing Arts Center, 310 San Pedro NE

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Our Continuing Crime Wave Coverage: Sheriff Asks "What's Going On In This Town?" We Answer, Plus: Many Mayoral Forums To Choose From 

And the beat goes on. . . as do the beatings, stabbings, killings, robberies and assorted other mayhem that has become commonplace in this mid-size city gripped by a crime crisis the likes it hasn't seen since they laid down the railroad tracks here in 1880.

We call those days of yore "The Wild West." What will they call this time a hundred years from now? Surely the historians of that far away time will wonder how ABQ slipped so far off the tracks and for so long, assuming the crime epidemic is solved by then. And an epidemic, dear reader, is what our beloved Albuquerque is dealing with.

In only the past few days a gun battle erupted in the middle of the city--in the used-to-be-safe NE Heights--at Carlisle and Montgomery. Across town in the SE Heights yet another slaying is added to the Metro Murder Meter made famous back in the day by legendary newsman Stuart Dyson. His voice would grow hoarse from overuse if he was in charge of the Meter today. As for the "other assorted mayhem," try this one on for size:

A drunk man went on a joyride to the tune of 142 mph down I-40. Police say Jeffrey Aguilar was in a black Mustang and fled officers twice before they eventually traced his plates to his address. When they arrived at his residence, police say they found him lying in bed drunk and arrested him.

Going 142 mph seems about the only way to attract law enforcement to the city's freeways these days. Driving them gives most citizens the feeling that they are about to step into a war zone.

And if you just happen to be driving through ABQ and stop at one of our friendly bistros for refreshment, there's a decent chance you'll get a personal taste of what this town has become:

While Staci Almager and her family (driving through ABQ) were eating at the Range Cafe last Friday, a man drove up right next to her SUV and starting looking into the vehicle. . . In an instant he started taking everything out of the family's SUV and loaded it into his car. Almager said he took everything: Their laptops, bank information, clothes.

Well, Stacy, it could be worse. You might have had to stay around here and listen to the excuses, finger-pointing and general whining by our leadership on why they can't do their jobs. Speaking of which . . .

There was another shooting involving a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy--the fifth this year--which has BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales pounding the table for more deputies--but still resisting the use of lapel cameras for them. And like his colleagues in the city--APD Chief Eden, Mayor Berry, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry, District Attorney Torrez, the nine member city council and the ABQ Chamber of Commerce, Gonzales is now overwhelmed by the enormity of the crisis this metro area faces:

What's going on in this town? What's going on in this community?" Gonzales said. "What is prompting people to act out with these behaviors that we haven't seen, I'm going to say, for as long as I've been in law enforcement?

Come on, Manny. You know why. And even though you're an affable guy and law enforcement pro, you are partly to blame.

In addition to drugs, poverty, repeat offenders and the understaffed APD, there is the dreadful impotence being displayed about all of it by the Sheriff and the aforementioned city leadership. Their statements to the general public reek of desperation but to the criminal class are music to the ears.

The question isn't "what's going on in this community?" The real question is how did our political and law enforcement leadership become so weak and willing to admit that weakness as this crime wave continues to drown them? And the question for all of us is "Where's our outrage"?

MAYOR WHO?

Readers are beginning to ask where they can see the ABQ mayoral candidates who are competing in the October 3 election. We previously told you about the two TV debates we're aware of--on KNME-TV August 15th from 6 to 8 p.m. and on KOB-TV the evening of September 15. Now we're getting word from the campaigns that KASA Fox 2 will have a mayoral debate from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. September 11 sponsored by the Greater ABQ Association of Realtors (GAAR). Activist Sivlio Dell'Angela has been compiling a list and adds these events:

--National Association Women Business Owners Mayoral Candidate Forum, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., Aug. 16, Tanoan Country Club.

--North Valley Coalition Mayoral Forum, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., August 23, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

--District 4/District 8 Forum, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., August 29, El Dorado High School.

--MiABQ Mayoral Forum, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., August 30, The Cell/Fusion Theatre Company, 701 1st NW.

--Community Safety and Policing Forum, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Sept. 6, African American Performing Arts Center on the state fairgrounds.

--NAACP Civil Rights and Diversity Conference Mayoral Forum, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Sept. 8, Embassy Suites Hotel near Downtown.

--East Gateway Coalition Mayoral Candidate Debate, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Sept. 21, The Canyon Club at Four Hill.s

That's a pretty healthy TV and forum schedule and we expect more will be on tap. There has been very little attention paid to this campaign but that could soon change--hopefully.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

On The Econ Beat: Not So Fast; The Claims That The Bear Is In Retreat Put To The Test; Oil Drilling Pop Does Not Make For A New Era 

Blogging New Mexico 
The administration in Santa Fe is hailing the end of the Great Bear Market that has embraced New Mexico for nearly a decade because of a shot in the arm of economic activity primarily due to a jump in energy royalties from the heavily drilled SE Permian basin. While the worst may or may not be behind us, it sure doesn't feel like the Bear has completely retreated to his lair.

While the Governor was gushing over an increase in the somewhat obscure economic indicator known as the gross domestic product (GDP), significant layoffs continued. The town of Estancia in Torrance County is preparing for 200 lost jobs at the privately run prison there which is being shut down. When that is fully absorbed the population in Estancia could easily return to what it was two decades ago. And a once high-flying (and heavily state-subsidized) tech firm in Rio Rancho just laid off 50 employees.

There are green shoots appearing in the economic desert. Construction workers are finding plenty to hammer, nail and pave. That's in large part because of the Facebook data center being built near Los Lunas and construction of the controversial ART transit project in ABQ. Notably, new home construction is nowhere near the rate of yore, forcing an imbalance in supply and demand and giving us price increases, but only modest ones compared to our neighbors. Homebuilders don't seem to have the confidence in the economic future that the Governor does.

There are no cranes in the sky of ABQ, no reports of the city's coffers flush with new cash generated by a rush of economic activity and no reports that interest from the educated classes in moving here is now higher than their interest in getting out.

The latest labor reports indicate the pop in employment is due primarily to the oil patch, low-paying jobs like those in tourism and home health care due to Medicaid expansion. Still, that is good news for those without college degrees and any jobs are welcomed.

(The June state jobs report had such a wild gyration that we're going to wait for confirmation of the higher employment numbers).

SAME OLD

So, the GDP increase seems to signal nothing much new about the economy, but something rather old--that when the oil business does well, state revenues do well. But the macro picture for the New Mexican economy has not changed significantly. Some examples why:

The jobless rate relative to other states remains historically high.

Revenue collections for cities and towns remain mostly flat.

Crime remains rampant in ABQ,

High school graduation rates lag the region and nation.

Medicaid eligibility for low income households has soared to well over 40 percent of the state population.

SOME BOTTOMING

Nothing goes up or down forever. And in a number of ways New Mexico has bottomed out. For example, most of those who want to move out, probably have. And local governments have raised the gross receipts tax to stabilize revenues. But the extreme damage done to the Land of Enchantment by the epic Bear Market is now evident--like smoke clearing from a battlefield.

ONCE UPON A TIME

The once NM monied middle class has shrunk. They wanted a Nordstrom's but they got payday loan stores. They wanted housing prices to roar again, but they whimper. They wanted local business to flourish as the Federal money spigot for the military/scientific complex flowed. Today it only trickles upward. They wanted to make a dent in crime and poverty, but the Bear (and a listless leadership) mauled that dream.

Given the cellar-dwelling polling numbers of those in charge in ABQ and Santa Fe, it seems a bipartisan conclusion that the current leadership has failed and failed mightily. New leadership will soon arrive and be charged with repairing the damage from an economic earthquake. From a state buried in rubble come cries of hope from the survivors.

LIVING "A LITTLE"

You may not be bowled over by the 8 individuals running for mayor of ABQ in the October election, but you can take heart that we don't have this problem:

Half of the eight mayoral hopefuls on Detroit’s primary have been convicted of felony crimes involving drugs, assault or weapons, a Detroit News analysis shows. Three were charged with gun crimes and two for assault with intent to commit murder. Some of the offenses date back decades, the earliest to 1977. The most recent was in 2008. Political consultant Greg Bowens said there are candidates with past hardships in every election cycle. It’s not something unique to Detroit or the political arena in general, he said. “Black marks on your record show you have lived a little and have overcome some challenges,” said Bowens. . .

Being charged with "assault with intent to commit murder" shows you "have lived a little?" Well, now we know how Detroit got to where it is. Today's Detroit mayoral primary is the first since the city exited bankruptcy in 2014. The field of eight will be narrowed to two who will meeting in a fall run-off election.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Notes From The Trail: SOS Oliver Dissed By Dark Money Groups But No Major Election Challenger Expected, Yet Another GOP Contender For Southern CD And A Dispiriting Display Of City Corruption Makes News 

Notes from the campaign trail. . . She's been plunged into a sea of controversy over her proposal broadening just what groups need to publicly report who gives them money, but that doesn't mean Dem Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is going to get stern GOP opposition. No GOP challenger has emerged for '18 and Republican insiders say don't expect one.

Oliver had no trouble last year when she crushed GOP foe Nora Espinoza 57% to 43% and was elected to fill out the final two years of the term of Republican SOS Dianna Duran. She resigned after a corruption scandal. Oliver will be seeking a four year term next year.

Here's the Oliver proposal that is causing the dark money groups such pain:

Under Toulouse Oliver’s proposed rules, a group that spent money on advertising or other communications to influence an election would have to file a report with the Secretary of State’s Office identifying itself. If it spent more than $3,000 on an election, the group also would have to identify some of its bigger donors. The revised proposal would raise the threshold for reporting spending intended to influence statewide campaigns to $7,500 from $3,000, differentiating between the race for governor, for example, and the race for a county commissioner’s seat.

Both the left and right are attacking Oliver's changes. Lefty state groups backed by dark money from the network of billionaire George Soros are sour on the idea as well as those getting cash from the conservative billionaire Koch Brothers network. Meanwhile, the general public is probably about 95 percent in favor of more transparency. It's about the only weapon they have against the avalanche of cash that the billionaire class uses to advance their own political agendas.

GETTING CROWDED

It's getting mighty crowded in one of the largest congressional districts in the USA. We blog of the race for the Republican nomination for the NM southern congressional seat. No sooner had we reported that former NM GOP Chairman and ex-Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman is seriously eyeing a bid when former Eddy County Commissioner and Carlsbad pharmacist Jack Volpato beat him to the punch.

Volpato pledges to fight for New Mexico job creation by promoting oil and gas production and exportation and an end to the damaging overregulation of the industry. He promises to support the district’s key industries, including potash and agriculture, by ensuring fair competition and advocating for necessary roads and infrastructure.

Volpato didn't mention the huge federal military presence in the district, protection of which is really job #1 for the southern congressional representative. Well, maybe even mentioning the word "federal" in the district carried by Trump is now verboten.

How we see it: State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr. is the frontrunner for the nomination. If former Mayor Newman gets in he's probably second. Alamogordo Rep, Yvette Harrell is third, but has potential. And Volpato is in fourth, but not condemned to stay there if he can raise funds. As for the Dems, their candidate mix is making this one look increasingly like a long shot indeed.

DISPIRTING DISPLAY

Well, no matter who is elected ABQ's mayor this fall the change can't come soon enough. The latest dispiriting display of corruption is a heart breaker:

A Civilian Police Oversight Agency investigation has concluded that two Albuquerque Police Department spokespeople lied to the public about the department’s role in the Victoria Martens case before the girl was drugged, raped, murdered and dismembered.
The spokespeople, officer Fred Duran and civilian Celina Espinoza, lied when they told a reporter earlier this year that APD detectives had investigated a report that the boyfriend of Victoria’s mother had tried to kiss the 10-year-old girl several months before she was murdered in August of 2016. No APD personnel ever visited Victoria or her mother to investigate the allegations, the investigation said.

We've got four months more of this before the next mayor takes over December 1. Will that mayor have the intestinal fortitude to use a big broom and sweep City Hall and APD clean? Is it an overstatement to say the city's future literally depends on it?

Mayoral hopeful Michelle Garcia Holmes, who put in a lot of years with APD, reacted to that by again calling for APD Chief Eden to resign. Ya think? By the way, we referenced Garcia Holmes this week as a Dem candidate. She is a registered independent.

DAMN THE APATHY

Damn the apathy. People do care but they need leadership. For example:

The Neighborhood Alliance Against Crime will hold a “Downtown Crime Tour” for ABQ mayoral candidates on August 6th at 3:00pm. The event will draw attention to the rise in crime in the downtown area and also show mayoral candidates firsthand the problems residents face on a daily basis. All eight mayoral candidates have agreed to attend. “One of these eight candidates will be the next Mayor and we want them to head into office having seen for themselves the problems we have with crime downtown," said Terry Brunner, downtown resident and organizer of the event. 

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Hector-Brian Bromance Comes To ABQ Mayor Contest, Latest On Keller-Balderas Tension On Presbyterian Probe And New Major GOP Candidate Poised To Enter Southern Congress Race 

N
The Brian Colón/Hector Balderas bromance shows no signs of cooling. In fact, Attorney General Hector will be the featured guest as Colón opens his mayoral campaign headquarters Thursday evening in ABQ's SE Heights.

The two Dem lawyers have long been friends, plotting their futures together. But the ant at their political picnic today is State Auditor and fellow Dem Tim Keller who is leading in the early insider mayoral polls for the October 3 election. Colón is running third behind Keller and Republican Dan Lewis. Only the two top vote getters will advance to a Nov. 7 run-off, assuming no candidate in the crowded field pulls in 50 percent of the vote needed for an outright victory.

The Colón crowd sees Keller as an upstart and outsider who thrives on naked ambition. The Keller crowd sees Colón and Balderas as throwbacks to the patrón system replete with shady undertones.

Balderas can help Colón because Colón is of Puerto Rican descent and not a native Hispanic like Balderas who was born in Wagon Mound. Among the major candidates Colón may have the best shot of grabbing a large share of the Hispanic vote. GOP businessman Ricardo Chaves and Dem Michelle Garcia Holmes are native Hispanics but are battling it out in the lower tier of the eight person contest. Giving Balderas top billing at his campaign bash is the opening salvo in Colón's quest for this important ethnic bloc.

KELLER VS. BALDERAS

Both Keller and Balderas have been actively investigating claims that Presbyterian Healthcare, the largest employer in the city, has not paid its fair share of premium taxes to the state. Balderas outscored Keller in the PR department when he went nuclear on Presbyterian, amping up his rhetoric and vowing to extract unpaid taxes from the healthcare giant who he accuses of fraud. Keller has been critical of Presbyterian but more circumspect in his statements. Balderas has been criticized for failing to wait for the completion of Keller's audit before filing a lawsuit against Presbyterian.

Happier times
Also, Balderas may have reaped PR from the Pres charges but it also brought digs his way, including one that asked, why, if he is so intent on fighting for the taxpayers, has he yet to do anything with the corruption investigation involving former APD Chief Ray Schultz and his dealings with Taser? It has been a couple of years since Auditor Keller dumped his damning investigation into Hector's lap which said it appeared ABQ's purchase of Taser's products was rigged by Schultz and perhaps others.

Back on Presbyterian, no doubt the bean counters there have been aggressive in holding down their taxes, but they are also easy pickings for the AG and Auditor. Big Healthcare is not beloved so bashing it comes with little political cost. But Presbyterian has labored for decades to build public trust here and has been free of major scandal.

Gov. Martinez's administration roiled the behavioral healthcare system by wrongly accusing the NM providers of fraud and replacing them with out of state providers. The charges were found to be hogwash but behavioral health (and the lives of many of its clients) was severely damaged. Certainly, if Presbyterian owes taxes, they need to pay them. But to accuse it of fraud and possible criminal behavior, as the AG is doing, and to do so without concrete evidence put before the public, is a dangerous game to be playing.

WORRY BEADS OUT

Keller's forces are nervous about what we call the half million dollar money bomb that Colón will soon start dropping. They argue (and hope) that the onetime lieutenant governor candidate doesn't have the savvy to craft a winning message. And they also argue, somewhat nervously, that Colón's cash on hand---the aforementioned half million--may be overstated because Colón may be deferring paying campaign bills until later in the campaign or even after it. Still, with Keller confined to a public financing budget of $380,000 they have good reason to use the worry beads as they ponder Colón's cash.

STILL ALL CRIME

Not all voters want the campaign to be all about crime, but how can that be when crazy stuff like this is happening here and making national news:

Police are investigating a bizarre heist of a 1,700-pound barbecue pit from a popular Albuquerque restaurant. . . Police say the black and red 200-gallon smoker was stolen early Sunday. Daniel Morgan, the owner of Pepper's Ole Fashion BBQ, says the smoker was cooking up a batch of brisket when it was taken. Morgan says most of the meat the restaurant serves is prepared in an indoor barbecue pit and he uses the custom built apparatus for catering gigs.

And the solution to the barbecue pit caper? Well, let's put it this way--it lacks red meat. The vegetarians in charge of fighting crime around here--the Mayor, police chief and DA--are again deflecting responsibility and want you to do their job for them:

The city of Albuquerque and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced the creation of an initiative called SCAN, or Security Camera Analytical Network. The idea, explained Mayor Berry, is to get the owners of existing security cameras at homes and businesses to voluntarily register their cameras and become part of a potentially large security camera map. Police would then look at the whole collection of video taken in a crime area for suspects or details of a crime or maybe even track an escape route.

How in the name of Powdrell's and Rudy's is that going to stop a stolen 1,700 pound barbecue pit from whizzing down the avenues of ABQ with its smoky trail pleasing the nostrils of the criminals laughing at its passing? Nice try mayor, police chief and DA, but no brisket for you.

NEWMAN POISED

Monty Newman
Alligators of the R variety are giving us heads-up on a possible significant development in the race for the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat. They report that former NM GOP chairman and ex-Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman is poised to join the race.

Newman ran for the nomination the last time Rep. Steve Pearce vacated the seat to run for higher office. That was in 2008 when Pearce unsuccessfully sought a US Senate seat. This time Pearce is leaving the seat to try to become governor.

Newman, who is in the real estate business, had big time financial support from national real estate interests in '08 but he came up short and the nomination was won by businessman Ed Tinsley who was defeated by Dem Harry Teague in the general election.  Also in that GOP nominating race was none other than Aubrey Dunn, Jr. who is now the state land commissioner but has decided to give that post up to again run for the southern CD.

If Newman gets in he can be expected to get financial support from the oil and gas industry. They've had their differences with Aubrey. Watching this closely is Alamogordo State Rep. Yvette Herrell, the underdog candidate, who has to be hoping that Newman and Dunn start a dust-up with one another and that it benefits her.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Two Months To Go In ABQ Mayoral Race But Strong Chance Of Run-Off Keeps The Crowd Looking Ahead, Plus: Readers Get In On Higher Ed Debate  

As we turn the calendar to August expect the ABQ mayoral race to heat up some, but perhaps not as much as you would like. There are eight candidates in the contest and because none of them is expected to get 50 percent of the vote a run-off between the two top finishers is expected November 7. Political observers say that expectation may be dampening interest in the first round of voting slated for October 3.

It seems much of the media and the public is treating this election as a primary which in many ways it is and that may be stifling enthusiasm and interest somewhat, although turnout at several of the mayoral forums has been robust. KNME-TV will sponsor a two hour mayoral debate on Tuesday, August 15th from 6 to 8 p.m. and KOB-TV will do a Friday evening September 15 debate,  but it appears the other major commercial networks (KOAT and KRQE) will take a pass on debates and wait for a run-off featuring the two top finishers. The venerable Temple Albert Mens Club, long a reliable political debate sponsor, is taking a pass on the Oct. 3 contest, saying it will only host a run-off debate.

It is the first time in a long time that a run-off seems likely thus lessening the impact of the initial voting round. In 2013 it was a two person race with a winner guaranteed in the first round. In 2009 it was a three person field but it took only 40 percent to avoid a run-off so the first round was seen as being definitive. In 2005 it was again a three person field and incumbent Mayor Chavez was heavily favored to win with more than the needed 40 percent in the first round and he did.

While some of the public may be waiting to see who makes the run-off before fully engaging in the campaign, the candidates trying to be one of the two who get to the final round will soon be roused. The big question is the half million dollar money bomb Democrat Brian Colón is expected to drop on the race. What will his message be? It will be the most critical decision of his political life. He is running third in the early polling and must utilize that money perfectly in order to get into a run-off with probably either Democrat Tim Keller or Republican Dan Lewis, the two polling frontrunners.

The candidates have been meeting in periodic forums that have received little media attention but have led to a discussion of the major issues including the one that dominates--the crime epidemic. The crucial question is which candidate captures the outrage of the public over the disintegration of law and order and the shrinking of the police department. Facts and figures the candidates have, but so far none of them has broken through emotionally and got the voters to say, "Okay, that's who gets it." The paid media to come could be decisive.

COUNCIL ACTION 

There are five city council races on the October ballot and activity is picking up. David Haughawout, president of the District 7 Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, writes:

The city council District 7 debate hosted by the D-7 Coalition of Neighborhood Associations will be held Wednesday, August 2 at the Sheraton Uptown Hotel from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  The debate between Councilor Diane Gibson and candidate Eric Lucero is open to the public and everyone is welcome.

Gibson is the Democratic incumbent in the NE Heights district. Lucero is a Republican.

HIGHER ED DEBATE

Reader Charles Sullivan's comments comparing the number of higher ed colleges in New Mexico to Arizona brought in quite a reaction--both pro and con. Bernalillo County Dem Party Chair Bill Peifer writes:

You published Charles Sullivan’s “relevant math lesson.” Unfortunately, his math is largely irrelevant. Comparing Arizona’s and New Mexico’s higher education system based simply on population of the states is like comparing apples and oranges based on the number of seeds inside. Well over half of Arizona’s 7 million people live in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. With 4.3 million people living within about a half hour drive of Arizona State University, that portion of the population can conceivably get by quite nicely with just that one university with its four campuses. Another million plus people live in the Tucson metro area and are within an easy drive of the University of Arizona’s campus. 

Our population is more spread out than Arizona’s. It would be very difficult for students from Farmington, Raton, Las Vegas, Portales, Roswell, Carlsbad, etc. to commute to any of our larger universities. We could save some money on regents’ stipends and salaries by turning Highlands, Eastern and Western into branch campuses, but the percentage of the costs saved would be negligible.

But Peter B. Ives, retired UNM Business, Economics and Geography Librarian sided with Sullivan:

Joe, Charles Sullivan makes a good point, although the trade-off is that two of their three universities are massive and the smallest, Northern AZ U in Flagstaff, has about  30,000 students and is larger than UNM. However, their 2-year, or community colleges, take an opposite tack. They are quite numerous and geographically extensive. For instance, look at Wikipedia's "List of colleges and universities in Arizona/" I counted around 50, 2-year colleges. So you have a two-level system (as opposed to the California three-levels: community colleges, Cal State and branches and the University of California and branches). Other states like Wisconsin, Texas, and New York have well-known, multi-level systems.

NM's "system" seems rather poorly thought-out and too political. That said, I was encouraged by the remarks of  state education leaders Abdallah, Carruthers, Winograd and others on progress they've made with management and curriculum efficiencies. That needs to be accelerated. I was also heartened by the NMSU Faculty President's mention that their voice was heard--reform can be done without "business-like" autocrats giving top-down decrees. 

SKYBOX SCANDAL 

Staying with higher ed, this anonymous reader has thoughts one the UNM Pit skybox scandal in which skyboxes were awarded but not paid for:

The problems of these suites is that they were poorly conceived. The views are terrible and few would actually want to sit there. Just guessing, but it could well be that the athletic director begged people to sit there so the fact they are white elephants might not be so obvious—and without any commitment from the users. Who knows? It was a screw-up of major proportions to even think someone would sit there much less pay thousands for the privilege.

Reader Richard Flores came with the obvious--that the skybox scandal could have been avoided if then Athletic Director Paul Krebs and UNM Executive Vice-President David Harris had insured the boxes were paid for in advance.

MEDIA BEAT

No wonder the cost of advertising on the 10 p.m. news in New Mexico has been more than halved in recent years. The audience is drifting away:

In 2016, viewership for network local affiliate news stations (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC) declined in key time slots – morning, early evening and late night, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. Since 2007, the average audience for late night newscasts has declined 31%, while morning audience declined 12% and early evening audience fell 19%. Local TV noon and 7 p.m. news viewership also declined.

Th local stations still stand to make a pretty good buck in the upcoming election cycle because candidates want to appeal to the over 50 crowd that still tune into the late night TV news and are the most likely voting group. Still, it will be interesting to see if in this changing media environment those candidates budget the same amount for TV news as they have in the past.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Year Of Tragedy For Prominent NM Political Family Culminates With Matriarch's Death, Plus: Who Did Allen Weh Forget? And: How To Pay For A Skybox At The Pit  

It has been a year of tragedy for a prominent political family from the Four Corners. On July 24, 2016 veteran political consultant and pollster Bruce Donisthorpe, 56, died of a heart attack. And now almost exactly a year to that date--on July 23--his mother and the matriarch of the family--85 year old former Republican State Senator Christine Donisthorpe--lost her life to cancer, according to her family. Her death comes amid a sensational scandal involving another of her sons. Paul Donisthorpe, who headed Desert State Life Management, a nonprofit trust company. He is accused of moving millions of dollars belonging to trust accounts for 70 clients, many of them disabled, into his own personal accounts. Reports say Donisthorpe, 61, made an unsuccessful attempt at suicide when the revelations began to surface earlier this year.

Christine Donisthorpe served 17 years in the NM Senate, from 1979-'96. Here is an excerpt from the obituary released by her family:

Christine A. Donisthorpe, 85, of Bloomfield passed away peacefully July 23, 2017 following a brave and extended battle with cancer. Born and reared in Fergus County, Montana. . . She and her husband, Oscar, moved to San Juan County in 1953, where Oscar established a law practice after attaining his law degree at the University of Montana. Together, they farmed 116 acres southwest of Bloomfield. . . She was very “hands-on” in the farming operation, performing any and all tasks required in raising livestock and alfalfa. She was also a Realtor, operating a realty office in Bloomfield for many years.

Christine served her community on the Bloomfield Board of Education and was appointed to a vacancy in Senate District 2. She was re-elected four times and served 17 years representing Bloomfield and San Juan County in the State Senate.

Services for the former lawmaker will be at 11:00 am on Friday, July 28 at Bethel Baptist Church in Aztec, NM. Interment will take place in the Bloomfield Cemetery.

LYONS AND LAND

As expected, former GOP State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons has made official his bid for the Republican nomination for Land Commissioner in 2018. Lyons, who is finishing  his second term on the state Public Regulation Commission, is expected to easily win the nomination and may be the only major R running.

Seeking the Dem nomination is another former land commissioner, Ray Powell, Jr. and Garrett VeneKlesen, a political newcomer who is getting backing from Sen. Heinrich.

Current GOP Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr. is not seeking re-election but instead running for the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Pearce who is running for Governor.

The Dems are favored to take the land office back next year, but don't forget that Lyons beat Dem Art Trujillo in 2002 to take the office and got re-elected in 2006 when he beat former land commissioner and ABQ Mayor Jim Baca.

FORGET SOMEONE?

Allen Weh, former NM GOP Chairman and owner of CSI Aviation, seems to have forgotten a few folks as he points his finger over the ABQ crime epidemic. Can you guess who?:

. . .The district attorney and the judiciary have no chance but to get tougher with criminals. So, for Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels, Second Judicial District Court Chief Judge Nan Nash, Metropolitan Court Judge Henry Alaniz, District Attorney Raúl Torrez and Bernalillo County Manager Julie Baca, know that you have now taken ownership of Albuquerque’s crime problem. Fix it fast, or you’ll ruin Albuquerque’s struggling economy and we’ll be well on our way to becoming another Detroit!

If you guessed that it was ABQ Mayor Berry, Governor Martinez and APD Chief Eden who were the ones Weh "forgot" to mention as sharing responsibility for current crime conditions, you win the door prize. Today that prize is a plate of enchiladas with no chile to highlight the glaring Weh omission. As for making a "ruin" of ABQ's "struggling economy," Allen must have been flying his airplanes really high while the city and state GOP leadership presided over that ruination.

PAY IN ADVANCE

About that UNM scandal over luxury skyboxes at the famous Pit going unpaid, reader Richard Flores writes rather sensibly:

There is an easy way to avoid problems related to the rental of luxury suites--make them pay in advance just like everybody else. When I want to attend a Lobo game, I pay in advance for that game ticket. People tbat buy season tickets pay in advance for a season pass. A TV interview with a UNM official makes it appear that the ball was dropped by UNM because invoices were not sent out. This is a smokescreen to try to fool the public. For one thing some of those overdue bills are 3-4 years old. What does that say about the money managers at UNM? Somebody must have noticed! It's bad enough that this money mismanagement was discovered by somebody outside of UNM, but UNM keeps getting themselves deeper and deeper into the quagmire of deceit by passing the blame around like an errant basketball pass. Here is a plan: fix the problem through institutional measures, collect the overdue money, and quit currying favor to those that can clearly afford to pay in advance.

DO THE MATH

Reader Charles Sullivan has a relevant math lesson today:

Hi Joe, On a per capita basis, NM has 7.8 times as many state funded 4 year colleges and universities as does Arizona. NM, with a population of 2.1 million has seven state funded 4 year colleges and universities or one for every 300,000 residents. AZ, with a population of 7 million has three, or one for every 2.33 million. 

Feel free to send your own pithy comments, criticisms and/or existential angst to our inbox.

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