Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Harris Hit Hard; Ethics Board Finds Councilor Guilty; Fines Total $2500, Plus: Lucky Seven Advance For Supreme Seat, And: The Fair's Funny Numbers 

Don Harris
A marathon session of the ABQ Ethics Board ended so late City Councilor Don Harris barely had time to make it to a downtown bar to drown his sorrows--if that's what he wanted to do. And sorrows he had. Shortly before 1:00 a.m. today the board, after hearing arguments and deliberating for over seven hours, slapped the councilor with fines totaling $2500 for five campaign finance violations. The timing was not good for the 45 year old attorney and freshman lawmaker; he faces a recall election next Tuesday at which the Alligators say his chances of becoming the first councilor in city history to get kicked out are even money, if not better.

But if Harris was hurting, he wasn't showing it. He told me in a wee hours of the morning cell call from council chambers that he sees the board's action as "mostly an exoneration and a bit of an admonition."

But your faithful blogger, out of Starbucks but keeping the hyperactivity going with heavily sugared micro-brewed cream soda, pointed out that the fine imposed is one of the biggest in memory. "I think they (the board) were trying to send a message. This was heavily publicized," argued Harris. But he added that he "was responsible for a lot of this" echoing an apology he made when he testified during the hearing.

Recall supporters will have their own spin and put it in capital letters in the final lit pieces that will hit the mailboxes in Harris's far NE Heights district. Up there the popular past time is golf at the landmark Four Hills Country Club, but it's a past time that for now has been supplanted by the bloodsport of La Politica.



I'm pretty impressed with our legal beagles. All three of their favorite candidates for the NM Supreme Court advanced Monday. The state commission charged with sending names to the Governor for a final decision gave him seven names to consider from the 15 they interviewed. The Beagles liked the chances of ABQ criminal defense attorney Charlie Daniels, ABQ District Judge Linda Vanzi and former UNM law professor Maureen Sanders. All three made the list, and one of the Beagles told me last night he thinks one of them will likely get the final nod from the Guv.

The others recommended are state General Services Secretary Art Jaramillo, NM Court of Appeals Judge Michael Vigil, ABQ attorney Ed Ricco, who practices appellate law with the Rodey firm, and Las Cruces area Chief District Court Judge Robert Robles whose supporters argue the five member high court is overdue for a justice from southern NM.

All the names are strong, but the vacancy Big Bill is filling is that of the late Justice Pamela Minzner, and while gender alone will not determine the appointment, voters did choose a woman for the term being filled. That will weigh heavily on the Governor and, we suppose, his advisers. But, as usual, voters get the final say. Whoever gets named has to run for election in '08.


There will be more city election action on the radio tonight. At 6 p.m. KANW 89.1 FM will air a recording of a District Four city council forum featuring incumbent Brad Winter and challenger Paulette de'Pascal.

I'll be on the station at 5 p.m. Monday with my team of election analysts for our Election Eve special. Our live continuous coverage of the ABQ election starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on 89.1 FM. If you are out of the listening area, you can catch all of the above programs via streaming media at the KANW Web site. (Sorry Mac users, the site seems to support only Windows.)

Thanks to Enterprise rent-a-car, Ladera Golf, Serrano & Sons Construction and Bill Campbell Agency (Realtors) for their support in making possible public radio coverage of Election '07.


State Fair chief Fred Peralta may want to check his math. At the conclusion of the big show Peralta declared: "There's between 1.8 and 1.9 million (people) in the state and over 700,000 of them come to the fair. That's a tremendous penetration per capita."

Actually, the state's population is now put at two million. And while there are over 700,000 visits to the fair, that doesn't mean there's 700,000 visitors. Many folks go twice or more and get counted for each visit. Still, with the array of entertainment competition the fair faces these days, the visitor count is not bad. As for Fred, the former mayor of Taos will be leaving his post as head of Expo New Mexico and heading home. You can count on that.


Insiders in Las Vegas, NM say don't be surprised if Dem State Sen. Pete Campos is soon named president of Luna Community College. Campos, in the senate since '91, is currently superintendent of the Las Vegas city schools and has a long background in education. A new Prez should be picked within a couple of weeks.

Keep us posted. Send your latest political news to us via this e-mail link.

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