Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rare Ribeye Steaks, The LA Times And A Sunny District Attorney; It's My Late Summer Slummin' In La Politica 

Summer Slummin'
Hey, what happened to the lazy days of summer? A little thing called Hurricane Katrina seemed to take care of that. Glancing at my calendar (not the Playmate one in the basement) I realized that if this summer was going to be something besides somber, I better get busy. So off I went Summer Slummin'. I fared pretty well too, scoring a bunch of my trademark free meals, but also doing a little work for you while enjoying my new found Tommy Bahama attitude. Come along now for a final round of summer fun, La Politica style.

We start at Yanni's on ABQ's Nob Hill where I meet up with Los Angeles Times national political writer Mark Barabak, in town tracking Big Bill and his Prez race. I pick Yanni's because sometimes on a lark the Big Guy shows up for a late-night steak. But with no sighting, we dig into our Greek salads as well as Big Bill's political fortunes.

Mark dismisses the attitude that our Guv may not measure up for the White House. "Arkansas felt the same way about Clinton and Texas about Bush, but they both won. Richardson is taken as seriously as the other candidates," offers the coastal scribe. But when asked what has been Big Bill's biggest accomplishment I draw a blank. "There's been a lot of little things--maybe the tax cuts or education funding are tops--and there's been a lot of activity, but I don't think any one thing stands out," I volunteer. We agree that the Guv's enlarged press office will gladly fill in any blanks we may find in the record.

And what about "ordinary" New Mexicans and politics? Did the hurricane and soaring gas prices combine to make for a coming sea change in American politics? Mark will leave Yanni's with places I give him to find those ordinary folks. He later pens this piece. Most important, he takes out his American Express card to pay for the repast of filet of sole coated in Parmesan. Thanks Mark, but Nick, easy with the salt shaker next time.


Fully in the summer slumming mood, next day I stop by the Great American Land and Cattle Company in ABQ's NE Heights where owner Jerry Wright is serving up thick slabs of USDA Prime as well as comments on his latest favorite topic: the proposal to raise ABQ's minimum wage and how City Councilor Martin Heinrich, who he has bantered with on this blog, has got it wrong.

"Mr. Martin was pretty weak in answering my question on raising my highest paid employees--servers--to such a height that it would cost us more than double our entire profit. 'It's about time,' was all he could mumble. About time? Based on what? Seems he keeps forgetting their tips (hope he doesn't do that when he dines out). With tips, not one of my servers goes home on a slow night with less than $20 per hour," argued Jerry. Heck, he could argue all night as long as I have a ribeye in front of me.

But there's more. A real shocker. Jerry picks up the tab, even though New Mexico lobbyist Scott Scanland, who dozens of politicians depend on for free meals, was at the table! Jerry explains that he did not want to risk Scanland going soft and jeopardizing my 30 year record of never paying for a meal involving politics. Don't worry, Jerry. You'll be reading about me in the Guinness world records.

DA Kari
Summer Slummin' ends on a high note at the downtown ABQ Hyatt. Not the food, the company. My snapper was the bouncy version. Did they put "flubber' in that fish? Anyway, politico Lenton Malry and I previewed our live coverage of the Oct. 4 ABQ election for KANW 89.1 FM with Lenton offering the viewpoint that Mayor Marty "is one lucky guy. "The Republicans have a chance, but I don't think they know it," said the savvy Malry, who is now working as a neighborhood coordinator for Bernalillo county. (Not in the treasurer's office as I blogged before correcting yesterday).

Then we table hopped (or bounced) over to where Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg was hanging and ready to make the earliest re-election announcement in history. "Joe, I love my job, I really love it," she enthused. (Did she have the bouncy snapper too?) "I am definitely running for another term," she says. "But that's still three years away," I reply. "But I really love my job!" OK, I think she's running. This time it will be for an unprecedented third, four year term in 2008. She has reason to be excited. She was unopposed in 2004. By the way, her dad, former DA Jim Brandenburg, is now 75 and still going strong and offering perky Kari legal advice from time to time.

Others are offering us legal advice. We call them Alligators and one of them is saying not to expect alleged cop killer John Hyde to go to the death chamber or even to trial for his violent rampage in which he killed two men in blue and three civilians. "It is very likely this case will end with a plea bargain. I think he will end up getting five life terms, one for each killing. That's based on activity in the case up to this point," said our very in-the-know legal beagle.


And so ends my Summer Slummin'. I feel a bit guilty too. I did nothing to bring gas prices down, did not help lead a quick response to Hurricane Katrina, and did not advance any progress in the Iraq war. Hmmm. Looks like I wasn't the only one slummin'.


Tonight may be your best chance to get a good look at all four candidates for ABQ mayor. They will face-off for a live, one hour televised appearance on KOB-TV channel 4 at 7 p.m. The debate will not be carried statewide so if you are out of the area, don't look for it. Tickets to the event may still be available. Check with the campaigns.

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