Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Vote Buying Charges In Espanola; Beer, Wood And Money Said To Be Lures, Plus: Santa Fe Mayor Update & More Of My Legislative Leftovers 

One of the more famous stories in New Mexico political lore has a politico calling up to Rio Arriba county to get late night election results for his candidate. "How many votes does he have?" The politico anxiously asks. "How many does he need?" came the infamous response that may be truth or fable but is now legendary. And now add some more coal to the fire. The Rio Grande Sun reports allegations of vote buying in the early voting in the Espanola March 7th city election.

One voter said he sold his vote for $15 which he used to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee. "It's better than nothing" he told the newspaper which further reports on allegations of "beer, wood and money" being offered for votes.

Residents of public housing are the alleged targets of the vote buying. That differs from the old days when you heard stories of patrons being pulled from bar stools to go vote with the promise of free drinks upon completion of the act. (What, close the bars on Election Day and spoil all the fun?) Here's the Sun's full report which might make for interesting reading at the offices of the U.S. Attorney, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General...well, you get the idea.


The money in city elections, once neighborly affairs, is now entering the big money leagues. ABQ Mayor Marty spent over a million bucks to win re-election in a city that has just half a million residents. Up in Santa Fe, the top money raiser for the mayor's job in the March election, City Councilor David Coss, has already raised $100,000 and that city doesn't even top 100,00 population.

We get more on the four way race for Santa Fe Alcalde from one of our veteran Alligators on the ground there: "David Coss is best positioned to win. His name is well-known as a city councilor. And he has the formidable power and organization of the public-employee unions (he was an officer and organizer for CWA when he worked for the state environment department) and the people involved in the "living wage" movement. Nobody is running to the left of Coss; the other three candidates are more conservative." Reports our source who has followed Santa Fe politics for decades.

A New Mexican poll also has Coss in the lead. Builder David Schutz is second and will try to come from behind in the closing weeks.


Are New Mexico's legislators a bunch of slow-pokes who waste time until the last days of the session? You might hear some governors argue in favor of that proposition, but syndicated columnist Jay Miller defends the plodding pace.

"Sure, all the items Richardson assigned to lawmakers at the beginning of the session might have been handled if they had done nothing else. But legislators are social creatures. They gather for a brief time every year to make important decisions. To do that, they need to get to know and trust each other and become as much of a team as possible. Some of that interaction takes place in floor sessions with the public and press watching. Birthdays and holidays are celebrated. There is some form of diversion almost every day."

If lawmakers do dilly-dally too much, it seems to suit voters fine. Repeated moves to lengthen the thirty day sessions to sixty have gone nowhere. It probably reflects the sentiment of the old saying: "Hide your wallets! The Legislature's in session."


Here's a Tuesday video laugh for you courtesy of ABQ real estate guy Tony Olmi, a Republican and dedicated Bush backer who nevertheless sees the humor in the Prez's tongue twisting. Enjoy.

And so it goes on this mild New Mexican winter day. Thanks for stopping by.

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