Thursday, March 09, 2006

On The Media Beat: Webcasting The Legislature Is A Step Closer, Plus: TV Ratings Derby Sows Confusion, And: Death Calls Sports Writing Legend Maestas 

Wouldn't it be great if you could catch your NM Legislature in action in the wee hours of the closing moments of a session? No? You mean you have a life? OK. But for insatiable political junkies there appears to be hope. While Big Bill Wednesday vetoed a measure putting up $75,000 so we could see our glamorous lawmakers Webcast live on the Internet, his office reports there is another 75 grand in the capital outlay budget for Webcasting that he did not veto. Why there is two versions is a story for another time, but now we are watching to see if the money is actually used to provide the Webcast or, as sometimes happens, simply stays on the books unspent.

Hey, maybe they can Webcast the activities of the State Treasurer's office too. Now, that would be interesting viewing. And, of course, if the Legislature ever does come to computer screens, the proper viewing snack will be pork rinds.

Big Bill's veto pen still has some ink left in it, but he did spill a bunch of it Wednesday, the last day for him to act on bills sent to him by the recent Legislative session.


KOAT Anchor Izaguirre
The hotly competitive ABQ TV news scene was beset with confusion this week when an ad agency for KOAT-TV reported the station had gone from the number three position in the all-important 10 p.m. news ratings to the top spot. The numbers also showed the ABC affiliate had done it in a big way. But it turns out the numbers were off the mark, so I asked my media Alligators for the real story.

They report that KOAT-TV, long the cellar dweller at 10, did take the #1 spot in the February sweeps, but because KOB-TV was airing the Olympics and their news was not coming on for most of the month until 10:30, a true 10 p.m. reading will not come until the May ratings. But the battle will likely remain nip and tuck as it has been for a couple of years now.

In Feb. KOAT, anchored by Cynthia Izaguirre and Doug Fernandez, came in with a 9.5 rating, KRQE-TV took second with an 8.2 and the late post-Olympics news on KOB sunk them to third with a 7.7. In the November 05' book KRQE was first, KOB second and KOAT third.

Even though Channel 7 has to wait for a clearer reading until May, there's nothing wrong with coming in #1 under even under unique circumstances. It shows that people were willing to sample them when they could not find the news on the competition. The station, the market leader from 1974 until 2000, failed to get its helicopter up in time to cover the historic 2000 Los Alamos fires. KOB did and grabbed the ratings crown away. In the last few years KRQE has joined the fray for first. So what promo was Channel 7 running during the recent sweeps? Ironically, it was one bragging how fast it gets its helicopter in the air to cover breaking news.

By the way, the politicos will soon be flooding the airwaves and insiders say thirty seconds on the 10 p.m. news in ABQ will cost the hopefuls anywhere from $1000 to $1500. When that dough starts flooding in all the stations will be winners, at least in the cash flow ratings.


And if all the TV stations are so proud of their efforts as they constantly trumpet in mind numbing promos, how come none of them airs their product on the radio at 5 or 6 p.m. when just about everyone is in their cars? KOB-TV used to do it, but no more. Grandma and grandpa are home at 6, but what about the rest of the audience? Isn't there an idea in there somewhere?

While you can't hear the TV news in your car, you can catch it an hour earlier and a lot of folks are, according to the ratings. At 9 p.m. KASA-TV, Channel 2 broadcasts an hour of early news with Jessica Kartalija and Jeremy Jojola anchoring. It is another one the polticos will hit heavy, especially to target older viewers.

Back to radio, we are in the early planning stages for primary Election Night coverage on KANW- 89.1 FM. It will be year 19 for us at the public radio outlet. Top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland will again be back as our chief analyst, along with many other familiar voices. It's a New Mexico tradition and the most listened to Election Night radio coverage in the state. We are pleased to be part of it and will keep you posted on this year's plans.


If you grew up with the UNM Lobos, or just about any other New Mexico sport, you grew up with Frank Maestas. The colorful sports scribe held forth at the ABQ Journal for nearly thirty years, from 1962 to 1990, a time that saw the basketball Lobos achieve legendary status, and along with them, writers like Maestas who covered their rise and the fall.

Maestas died of lung disease at his ABQ home Wednesday. His son, attorney Moe Maestas, is a candidate for the Dem nomination in ABQ Westside House District 16 and says he has suspended his campaign "indefinitely" in the wake of his dad's death.

Maestas was a sports junkie whose wild hair was his trademark and made him nearly as famous as the UNM Pit he spent so much time in. I don't think he would mind if I mentioned that at the end of his career he got in trouble for sports betting. In today's wide-open gambling atmosphere the incident looks quaint. In fact, Moe and I joked about it over lunch recently.

A memorial celebration is set for Monday, March 13, at 3 p.m. at the YDI Wool Warehouse, 516 First Street NW, ABQ.

Frank Maestas, a native of Las Vegas, NM and a graduate of Highlands University, loved the games of sports and of life. He was 70 years old.

Thanks for the company today, and for your e-mail. Keep me posted. There's a mail link at the top of the page.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Election Results: Mayor Owen Ousted In Rio Rancho And More, Plus: Mickey Barnett Goes Postal; GOP Lobbyist In The White House Sights 

Rio Rancho Mayor Jim Owen was turned out of office last night by Kevin Jackson, fellow conservative and founder of the evangelical group, the New Mexico Family Council, providing the highlight of city elections around New Mexico. In Santa Fe, as expected, the liberals regained control of City Hall with David Coss taking the prize. Checking in near midnight with John Foster of the Rio Grande Sun in Espanola, we received the news that not only had Joseph Maestas bested Floyd Archuleta to become the new mayor, but that his slate will now control all eight city council seats in the northern NM city. Archuleta was hurt by allegations of vote-buying. Here's a complete list of all the Election Night results.


He's controversial and he's tenacious. ABQ GOP lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett, ousted by fellow R's from his national committeemen post in 04', has found some friends in the White House and has been nominated by President Bush as a governor of the U.S. Postal Service. His friends will be rooting him on, and his enemies promise to hold his feet to the fire when he goes before the U.S. Senate for confirmation hearings.

Insider R's report that former GOP state legislators Earlene Roberts and Ron Godbey are prepared to testify, or submit written testimony opposing Barnett's' nomination to the 11 member board. Roberts was defeated in 04' by fellow R Keith Gardner who was backed by the Barnett group. ABQ's Godbey easily defeated several Barnett backed foes in GOP primaries before leaving the Legislature and moving to Texas.

The postal service term is for seven years and pays $30,000 a year plus $300 for each meeting. The board is powerful, overseeing postal service employees across the nation. The employees are unionized. That was one of the issues covered when this postal service blog (There's a blog for everything!) reported on the Barnett nomination.

Barnett has been a longtime ally of Bush. Scott Jennings, White House Deputy Political Director, managed Bush's 04' re-elect effort in NM.

Barnett's nomination will be voted on by the Senate Homeland and Government Operations Committee of which NM GOP Senator Domenici is a member. Barnett served as a legislative assistant to Domenici during the senator's first term in the early 70's. It is rare for this type of nomination to be rejected but, according to one R familiar with the process, "it is not a slam-dunk."


Barnett's profile has been lowered from the raucous days of 03' and 04' when he led a faction of the GOP to oust State GOP Chair Ramsay Gorham. Gorham was eventually ousted, but Barnett paid a price as his fellow R's then voted him out of his prestigious national committeeman post. Also, the legalization of drugs, which Barnett backed and which tore the party apart, is no longer on the radar.

The last time Barnett made news was earlier this year when it was reported that he had become the personal lawyer for Big Bill favored lobbyist Butch Maki. That association with a prominent Dem brought renewed criticism of Barnett by his longtime GOP foes. Barnett also was in the public eye as the lobbyist for payday loan companies.

Barnett continues to host a weekly Republican luncheon. Insiders say Legislators aligned with him include Justine Fox-Young, his former legal secretary, State Rep. Dan Foley of Roswell, Eric Youngberg of ABQ and Roswell GOP State Sen. "Lightning Rod" Adair.

Unlike 2004, Barnett so far has not fielded any candidates against incumbent GOP state legislators. But party insiders will closely watch this month's filings to see if Barnett again goes after lawmakers not to his liking. If he does, it could complicate his efforts to become a postal service governor. Also, party operatives, exhausted by the infighting of the past two years, are hoping that they can finally put the divisions behind them.

Barnett, a former state senator from Portales, will have plenty to do if he is confirmed. ABQ's slow-mail woes hit the news recently, and if a New Mexican becomes a postal governor, he can be sure to get an earful.

Interested in advertising here? Contact me via e-mail from the link at the top of the page.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gary Johnson Resurfaces And So Do The Alligators Tracking Him, Plus: L.A. Meets Heather And Patsy; It's All Here On Your Tuesday Blog 

The familiar, high-pitched voice of ex-GOP Guv Gary Johnson (1995-02') was heard again recently as he emerged from his Taos cocoon to take a whack at Big Bill's semi-controversial hiring practices. Johnson, who last made news in September when he announced he was busting up with his wife and ex-First Lady Dee to be with another woman, condemned Big Bill for having a direct hand in hiring some 60 state employees at an annual cost of $3 million.

"I'll just say that we didn't do this once, not once," he argued in a statement that may or may not stand the scrutiny test.

But a Dem e-mailer wondered if Governor Johnson ever handed out contracts to various contributors and supporters. "In New Mexico the Dems get the jobs when they are in power and the R's give out contracts." She wrote.

The Fourth Floor low-keyed the response to the Big Bill hiring spree apparently thinking the story would mostly blow over. But some Dems, like liberal radio talk show host Mike Santullo, who seems to surface when things are at a low tide for the Guv, believe the issue has more legs than some political pros may be counseling the Guv. He expects to see plenty of TV ads about it come October and went preemptive now.

"Maybe the reason Johnson never hired anyone is because he never wanted to do anything. He vetoed over 200 bills and frittered eight years away. Now we have a Governor who is getting things done and needs help doing it. Gary ought to stick with legalizing drugs and climbing mountains. He knows a hell of a lot more about that than he does state government," weighed in Santullo.

His drug reference was to Johnson's long-standing and hyper-controversial support for legalizing dope; a position that spilt the NM GOP in part in the late 90's and from which it continues to be on the mend even to this day.


Harry Pavlides, one of the "Governor exempt" employees, (also known as "Gifts From The North" at the offices where they are employed) is not hiding underneath any rocks after being highlighted in various media reports as being hand-picked by Big Bill for a $45,000 a year State Fair administrative job.

"Is Johnson running again for something? His statements are purely political. I am proud to be working for the most progressive Governor in state history." Offered Pavlides. He challenged questioning media reports, and said he is performing a needed job. He supplied a long list of his activities including how he "arranged for admission to nearly 5,000 physically and mentally challenged, or foster children to the Fair."

Pavlides is a longtime Dem pollster and occasional contributor of election analysis to this blog.

Both Pavildes and Santullo are old-timers at manning the political battle lines and have no fear of taking on the opposition which they have done through the decades for other Dem Guvs. Others, especially those named in the media reports, prefer a more low key approach in job starved NM.

The Guv's problem is not so much expanding the number of state exempt employees, (political appointees who can be fired at will) but the way he has gone about it. However, if it is illegal, as some legislators claim, why aren't they in court filing lawsuits or asking for an attorney general's opinion?

As for Gary, if he does plan on making a comeback he will quickly realize that there's no legislative leaders around like Raymond Sanchez or Manny Aragon to kick around and play his foil like the old days. This time he'll be on his own.


The national coverage of the hotly contested ABQ congressional race featuring GOP incumbent Heather Wilson and Dem challenger Patricia Madrid has begun in earnest. I sat down recently with Los Angeles Times national reporter Mark Barabak whose paper has chosen our district to focus on as a bellwether for how the country may go this November. The Times is among the nation's top five papers with a weekday circulation of about 908,000 and Sunday coming in at 1,254,000.

Mark and I picked each others brains for better than an hour over at Yanni's on ABQ's Nob Hill. He then scoured the district for clues and some face time with Heather. His insightful take with quotes from your blogger and NM pollster Brian Sanderoff hit the Times Saturday.

As we wrapped up our conversation the national political junkie and I shared a conclusion. We both hope neither candidate makes a big, early mistake or we won't have anything to write about.

Thanks for tuning in today. Come back again soon.

Not for reproduction without permission of the autho

Monday, March 06, 2006

Woman In Jewell Case Speaks: "I Loved Him," She Declares; Condemns Secrecy As Jewell Bows Out, Plus: Odd Twist: She Was Student In Guv's UNM Class 

Summers & Guv at UNM
Word came late Sunday that Tommy Jewell has declined the Governor's appointment to become the head of the NM Children, Youth and Families Department. Outgoing Secretary Mary Dale Bolson will remain on the job until a replacement is named. The news came as new twists developed in the controversy surrounding the retired ABQ District Court judge. The woman who filed a 1999 domestic violence complaint against Jewell, Karen Summers, contacted this blog to rebut charges leveled here Friday by an attorney friend of Jewell. That attorney claimed Summers was "pissed off" and trying to embarrass Jewell. And in another twist, Summers says she was a student in Governor Richardson's University of New Mexico government class last year and served as a Governor's intern at the Human Services Department last summer. She said the Governor was not aware of her past involvement with Jewell at the time.

And in yet another ironic twist, Summers told me her daughter is a student at New Mexico State University and was enrolled in Big Bill's government class at that campus.

"I would like to tell the Governor my side of the story. My main concern is the secrecy in this case. I did not file my complaint because I was "pissed off" or trying to embarrass Tommy or his wife." Said Summers. (Jewell's wife, District Court Judge Angela Jewell, handles domestic violence cases.)

"I had a genuine (domestic violence) complaint. I had a long term (8 years) relationship with Tommy. I was in love. I loved him." She declared softly.

Summers, now in hear early 50's, said her complaint resulted from a quarrel about ending the relationship.

Last week Jewell denied any violent behavior, telling the Santa Fe New Mexican: "I have not been violent in my life." He also pointed out that he was never charged with a crime in connection with the complaint.

The Summers complaint ended up being filed in Sandoval county even though the alleged incident took place in Bernalillo county. "I filed my complaint in Bernalillo county, but immediately (ex-Chief District Court Judge) John Brennan had the case moved to Sandoval county and to Judge Louis McDonald. Then it was sealed. That was wrong and several of the other judges questioned the action," she said.

At the time McDonald justified the sealing of the case by saying: "The file does not contain any information which would serve any purpose other than to gratify private spite and promote public scandal." His version on why he got the case has yet to be heard. Perhaps it was because it was thought there would be a conflict of interest for a Bernalillo county judge to hear the case of a fellow judge. But Summers sees darker motives.


Summers' complaint was settled with both parties agreeing to the secrecy agreement. Judge Brennan resigned from the bench in 2004 after being arrested on cocaine possession and drunk driving charges.

Summers claims she was intimidated into signing the 99' agreement and that the case was moved to Sandoval county because she knew of Brennan's cocaine use and he wanted the complaint quashed. "Those around the courthouse knew about his cocaine use. It was common knowledge," contended Summers.

She also said she believed the case was sent to Sandoval county in the hope that she would not pursue it. "But I did. I hopped in my little car and made the drive out there. I don't think they expected that."

Summers, a single mother of five children ranging in age from 32 to 19, also cleared up the mystery over the title of the complaint which said: "Domestic violence w/ children."

"There was no violence with regards to the children. They were present at the time and suffered emotional trauma, but there was no physical abuse." she said.

Summers worked as a paralegal for the city of Albuquerque. She said she lost her job as a result of "blacklisting" but later filed suit and settled with the city over the dismissal.

Later she enrolled at the University of New Mexico, majoring in psychology. She also applied for and was accepted in Governor Richardson's government class. That, she said, led to her appointment as a Governor's intern last year in the Human Services Department.

Jewell & Summers
Despite the sour ending to her relationship with the former Children's Court judge, Summers said she was not urging the Governor to reject Jewell as CYFD cabinet secretary. She says she has been blacklisted by Jewell's friends in the legal community and fears her plans to attend UNM Law School could be jeopardized by them so she is going public.

"Tommy Jewell himself has not done any of this (the alleged blacklisting) to me or my children and I believe he truly does have the best interests of the children of the state at heart. Unfortunately, he is surrounded by some seriously dysfunctional people that feel the need to do things like making that false statement to you about me and the case." Summers explained.

Jewell, 51, has refused to talk about his relationship with Summers or the domestic violence case, citing the secrecy agreement. The incident, despite being reported in the newspaper, never came up in the vetting of the Jewell appointment. In his New Mexican interview Jewell reports a hurried and somewhat chaotic background check.

Obviously, if Jewell had detailed the incident, or if it had been discovered through a complete vetting, the story might be different. The issue is particularly sensitive because of New Mexico's horrific rate of domestic violence cases and because CYFD is the lead agency charged with solving the problem.

And so ends a tale that now enters the never ending book of La Politica; a tale that may serve to remind those who seek the power and glory that secrecy is not their friend.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign