Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Richardson Expected To Be Named Wednesday; Waiting For Obama To Make It Real For Bill, Plus: Senate's Sanchez Told To "Get Tough" On Renegade Jennings 

In this crazy, news-around-the-clock, always-on-deadline world we live in, it took no more than a couple of hours after Thanksgiving dessert was served for a wave of anxiety to arise when Big Bill was not immediately named by President-elect Obama as Commerce Secretary. E-mail boxes filled with inquiries--"Is something wrong?--and cell phones vibrated and belled with similar sentiments. Even those know-it-all Alligators grew tentative when Monday came and went and still no announcement that the Big Guy was headed to the Big Time.

But a check of insider sources and the national news beat reveals no hitches--at least not yet--in Governor Bill getting the nod from Obama. It seems the leaked news that Richardson would be named "after Thanksgiving" set off some alarm bells, but some of our reliables say that could mean the wait could be done today or last all the way until mid-December. Some pointed out that former Senator Tom Daschle, leaked to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, also awaits official appointment and his name came out around the same time as Bill's.

It's not everyday that a Governor gives up his job mid-term to leave for a national post, so the nervousness over Richardson is understandable, even if no significant opposition to his appointment has surfaced. If the media and political classes are anxious, just think how Diane Denish feels. The Light Guv has new curtains picked out for the Governor's office, but she dare not touch them until Obama makes Bill official--her fingernails are sweating too much.


Want more political drama? Just keep it here. Wall-leaners, Alligators, hangers-on and power players past and present all seem to agree on the approach Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez needs to take with renegade Democrat Tim Jennings--get tough. Jennings, rejected by the Senate Dem caucus Sunday to continue as president pro tem, is now working the beat to convince seven Dems to join with 15 R's to allow him to continue as pro tem, even though the caucus dumped him in favor of Questa Senator Carlos Cisneros.

Jennings displayed some bravado in the press, claiming he has the votes to keep the job. But can't Sanchez nip this movida in the bud by targeting a couple of the possible "Jennings Seven"? He could and he should, say the players we quizzed. Several suggested that if Tim persists he should be told that if he loses, he will be stripped of all power and good committees and sat in the back row like an unruly student.

Sometimes power is just about power. For Michael Sanchez, the longer the back room dealing goes on, the more dangerous it becomes. He knows it. He has said he hopes to have the situation in hand by Christmas. Wily GOP Senate leader Stuart Ingle must be humbled by the way the political gods are smiling at him--at least for now.


Last December four ABQ city councilors walked out of a meeting during a heated dispute over who would be city council president. Last night the season of peace took hold and Councilor Isaac "Ike" Benton was elected president for a one year term without opposition--or walkouts. He succeeds Republican Brad Winter who won the presidency in '07 when Dem councilors split between two candidates. The walk-out was a low point for the panel, but they've been doing better since. Benton, an architect, is not a political professional, but a citizen in the volunteer tradition. GOP Councilor Sally Mayer was elected council vice-president. Both serve one year terms. Benton is being challenged for his council seat in '09 by Dem Bernalillo County Commissioner Alan Armijo.


The latest defensive spin on the failure of Eclipse Aviation is that the government money involved--under $20 million in state funds plus various city tax breaks--is really a drop in the bucket and Eclipse going bankrupt is not that big of a deal. But it is a big deal--not only because of the public money but because of the way the New Mexican economic development community and the media devoted so much time, energy and resources to this deal, even as they were shown evidence that this thing wasn't going to fly.

Eclipse was not presented to the public as a single business development, but as a panacea for our dismal low wage economy. Eclipse, it was said, would not only provide thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs, but thousands more from other firms that would locate here because of Eclipse. This wasn't only a financial investment; it was sold as a commitment to change in the direction of the city's economy. So now what? Can the folks who kept Eclipse front and center for so many years answer that question? We're just asking.

Gov. C de Baca
This one seems to have gotten away from us. We've long thought that no NM lieutenant governor has succeeded in becoming governor for the term following the governor he served under. But syndicated columnist Jay Miller recently wrote that Ezequiel C de Baca served as the state's first lieutenant governor in 1912 and in 1916 was elected Governor. However, he died, in 1917, only six weeks after being sworn in. The history books confirm the story. It's true that C de Baca was the only Lt. Governor in state history to pull off the feat, although others have tried. Diane Denish could become the second if she gets to finish out Bill's term and is elected in her own right in 2010.

We took our mistaken impression as an article of faith as it was shared over the years with a variety of politicos. Of course, we could zing Jay and say he knows this stuff because he was around back in 1917. But we would never do that. The little episode reminds us of an old reporter's quote: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out!"


From David Letterman: "Let me give you an idea how desperate the economy is here in New York City." It is "so desperate, the crack dealers...are now offering free nachos."

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