Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Paper Ballot Plan Shredded By County Clerks, Plus: Heather & Patsy's Early Skirmish, Part II, And: Media Beat News, It's A Political Fix From Route 66 

Mary Herrera
Could New Mexico be headed for yet another Election Night vote counting disaster, even though the plan to go to all-paper ballots counted by optical scanner is before the Legislature and $11 million in funding is being requested by Big Bill to implement it? If you listen to county clerks, especially Bernalillo County Clerk and Dem Secretary of State hopeful Mary Herrera, the answer is an unfortunate yes.

The clerks association dashed off a letter Tuesday to key lawmakers saying getting all the machines in place for the November election is a logistic nightmare and that training poll workers, most of them quite elderly, is a key issue.

Some Santa Fe insiders say the clerks are looking for cover, that if they system goes haywire they will be able to point fingers back at the Guv and legislators. According to these same reliable insiders, Herrera has had a sharp exchange with Big Bill on all this. But House Voters and Elections Chair Ed Sandoval is ready to sweeten the pot and propose money to pay off the debt on any machines now in use as well as more dough to certify poll workers on how to use the new ones.

The consensus is for the paper ballots, which will also provide a paper trail on each vote cast. But if the clerks can't get it together, it could be another long count. One possible solution would have half the new machines ready for November with the other half coming on line later. Stay tuned.


The early skirmishing between ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson and her D opponent, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, has Patsy slapping back at Heather's attempts to link the AG to the corruption scandal in the State Treasurer's office. (See our Jan. 29 blog.) From the ABQ Journal's Michael Coleman:

"Madrid said she received complaints about allegedly shady deals in the state Auditor's Office in the late 1990s, (when indicted Treasurer Robert Vigil was Auditor) and that she referred them to the District Attorney's Office in Santa Fe, as well as the FBI.

"Questions were not raised in my office with regard to the treasurer," Madrid said. "There were no complaints made to me about the Treasurer's Office at all."

Madrid also pointed out that she has only six prosecutors at her disposal, and more than two dozen murder cases pending.

"We're very, very busy," she said, adding that she is "very proud of the work my criminal prosecutors and investigators have done."

Madrid's argument may seem like hairsplitting to some voters and Wilson is bound to continue to keep the heat on the AG under whose watch the kickback scandal occurred. But Madrid's sharp hits on Heather's money ties to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the money machine of indicted ex-House Majority Leader Delay are also fair game. Did Heather ever meet with Abramoff or any of his associates, including Michael Scanlon? Did that pair help get others to donate to a Wilson campaign? All this "fair game" is sure to be riddled with shotgun pellets by the time this one is over.


One of our creative readers, Dave Thomas, came up with the logo on the left to note the departure of KOAT-TV (channel 7) investigative reporter Priscilla Ress. The station is advertising to fill her job...Join me for some TV politics on KNME-TV's "Thin Line" at 7 p.m. Friday (channel 5). Steve Lawrence of Crosswinds Weekly is the moderator of this lively half-hour. This week's guest is high-powered ABQ attorney Roberta Cooper Ramo. I have no idea what we will be talking about, which should make it even more fun...

I usually like to know the author of a Web site before I link to it (for obvious reasons) but New Mexico Matters, doesn't seem to have an axe to grind, even though its author is apparently nameless. There are cool links to NM media and other stuff that should come in handy during this election year...And for those of you new to the blogosphere let me give a shout-out to the Duke City Fix. Their stable of writers don't always agree with our musings, but they are talented and always fresh...


And congrats to NM TV news dean Dick Knipfing. While guesting with him on the KRQE (channel 13) 4 p.m. news last week, Dick informed that he has signed a new three year contract with the CBS affiliate which is in a nip and tuck battle for 10 p.m. news dominance in the ABQ market. (Erika Ruiz is co-anchor) Dick has anchored news in NM for an incredible 42 years. That may be close to a national record. Whether he's number one or number three, his enthusiasm for La Politica never wanes. He noted the heated atmosphere of recent years saying partisanship out there has, regretfully, made him more hesitant to lend his name to community causes as the ideologues look to get attention. But he's insistent on playing it down the middle and holding firm. That in itself is a worthy community cause.


There are a slew of municipal elections in New Mexico March 7th and things are starting to heat up. You may have noticed the banner ad of former Santa Fe City Councilor David Schutz on the site. He's one of five City Different mayoral hopefuls seeking to succeed Larry Delgado who gave up the post to try to replace Lucky Varela in the Legislature. Varela is seeking the Dem nod for State Treasurer. Here's a primer on the battle for the capital city's top job from the New Mexican. And if you are seeking office this year and want to place your ad here, you are more than welcome. Just drop me an e-mail for details.


That was Colin Hunter of Rep. Wilson's staff who was at the Barelas Coffee House "Chicharrones party" I blogged Monday. Early morning readers saw another last name. Thanks to Colin acquaintance and GOP State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carraro for the pre-dawn editing job.

There's more stuff going on, like Senator Pete getting in on Big Bill's train plan, but I'm out of time. Let's try to catch up together tomorrow.

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