Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dr. No: No Rose Colored Glasses For Him, Plus: Yuck! More Pay To Play? Also: Recession Ravages; "President" Heinrich & Some Press Notes 

Rose Colored Glasses
There's an emergency at the Roundhouse. No one can get Dr. No to put on rose-colored glasses. He keeps saying the sky is falling. The problem is pieces of the darn thing have actually been spotted on the ground. For the uninitiated, "Dr. No" is conservative Democratic State Senator John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the Legislative Finance Committee. He again threw aside the rose-colored Ray-Bans they were trying to pin on him Wednesday. He declared at an LFC session that the $500 million shortfall for the budget year starting July 1 could actually ratchet up to the $1 billion level as oil and gas prices stagnate. And, he mused, what should we plan to do about that?

No wonder the liberals are trying to dump Dr. No from Senate Finance. The guy has been an incorrigible Nostradamus, correctly forecasting financial gloom since the big break in energy prices began. The question is do lawmakers want to take on a potential $1 billion shortfall and budget for it during their upcoming 60-day session? Or, do they head to Walgreen's to replenish their supply of rose-colored glasses and assume we'll have the smaller $500 million shortfall?


Dr. No
And do the Dems kick Dr. No down the road and replace him on Senate Finance? That seems to be the dream of some supporters of Sen. Carlos Cisneros who is locked in in a battle for Senate President Pro Tem with Sen. Tim Jennings. But if Cisneros wins and Smith is dumped, there would be no conservatives (and no Anglos) in the legislative leadership in a state where large chunks of Dems identify as conservative. Can't Cisneros and company make a deal and team Dr. No with Sen. Pete Campos and make them co-chairs of Senate Finance? That wouldn't give conservatives a leadership post, but it would give them something to hang their hats on. If Dr. No is dumped, NM Dems risk splintering in the wake of their biggest state election landslide since '64.

Smith has become the state's reality check; no one likes to hear what he has to say, but they know they need to hear it. That he agrees that the shortfall for the remainder of this fiscal year--running until the end of June--is the consensus figure of about $453 million is the only good news he has had recently for his pork hungry colleagues.

Dr. No of Deming can't help himself. His daddy wandered around during the Great Depression and built roads to feed his family. They didn't have much money for glasses back then--never mind the rose-colored variety.


There can be no rose-colored glasses when it comes to assisting thousands of New Mexicans who are being axed and on the unemployment lines. They have not been getting the help they need. From the Guv:

Governor Richardson took several steps to help the Department of Workforce Solutions get unemployment benefits to out-of-work New Mexicans as quickly as possible.

“While the employees at Workforce Solutions are working hard under trying circumstances, they obviously need more help..I am taking immediate steps to process claims seven days a week and to double the number of people who are working the phones and processing these claims...

KRQE-TV hammered this issue and helped get results, but the bureaucrats need to step up without prodding. That means the big batch of political appointees over there. Time to get to work, gang. Ultimately, leadership on the recession's damage has to come from the Fourth Floor, with or without the distraction of a federal grand jury investigation.


Not convinced it's that big of a deal? How about this--2,500 people apply for 100 jobs in Albuquerque.


Are they going to be coming out of the woodwork with more alleged "pay to play" schemes?

A former investment officer for the state's educational pension program claims New Mexico taxpayers lost more than $90 million in an alleged "pay-to-play" scheme in which political contributions to Gov. Bill Richardson influenced the awarding of investment business...

The ex investment officer was charged with sex harassment which is being used to shoot down his story. The Guv's spinners also dub the ex-investment officer a "partisan Republican."


The Guv's leadership on ethics may be compromised because of the CDR probe before the federal grand jury, but he could tap Light Guv Denish to spearhead the administration's ethics reform before the Legislature. A joint effort could benefit both. With a scandal a day seeming to be alleged, we are reaching critical mass for some kind of reform. Attorney General King wants a seat at the table, too. Something could happen if Bill, Denish and King could get it together.


Here's some Alligator reaction to our Wednesday write-up on the slap given to Big Bill by Dem ABQ South Valley State Senator Linda Lopez, chairwoman of Senate Rules.

There were no progressive groups I am aware of working against Linda Lopez in her primary race. Most felt uncomfortable with (her Democratic challenger) Michael Padilla given his ties to Mayor Chavez. They probably did less for her than they would have had Linda not sponsored the SunCal bill and killed the ethics bills in her Rules Committee. However, most progressive groups consider her a strong ally...

A strong progressive ally? And she votes against their causes? That Alligator spent too much time in the sun. And if Linda votes with the Republicans for Senator Jennings for President Pro Tem over Carlos Cisneros, will that be "progressive?"

Guess who else chimed in on this? Why, none other than Dem Michael Padilla who was defeated by Lopez in that hot June primary. Come back in, Michael, the water is as muddy as ever:

It would be great if the Senator would focus on her legislative duties and not so much on Governor Richardson. She has had twelve years to make a difference and up to this point... has allowed developers to run amuck all over the South Valley and West Side. I was not backed by Governor Richardson. I came very close to defeating Senator Lopez by working hard, listening to people, and funding almost my entire campaign personally..because I love the South Valley.

Thanks for kicking the party off early, Linda. Come January 20, the confetti really starts falling.


From Washington:

Representative Martin Heinrich was elected President of the Democratic Freshman Class of the 111th Congress. “I’m honored to have the confidence of my peers and I will work with them to advance the agenda of change that our constituents voted for in November.

Heinrich will serve as the liaison between the new House members and the Democratic leadership. He keeps the post for six months. He was elected by the 32 Democratic first-termers. Heinrich is also an ex-president. He served in that position when he was on the ABQ City Council.


Dear Guv, You have not updated your blog since April 9, 2008. If nothing else, you could post updates there on the status of your beard. No, you shouldn't use it to ask for campaign contributions.


Jennifer Conn, who we blogged about becoming the state director for new northern Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, is now Jennifer Catechis. She was married a month ago to Chris Catechis who works at Sandia Labs and is active with state Dems.....Clara Apodaca is head of the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Foundation, not the actual center as we initially blogged.


From Gwyneth Doland at the NM Independent:

On a posting about the ABQ Journal cuts...Joe Monahan mentioned layoffs at KOB-TV, the Santa Fe New Mexican and at NMI, then, four paragraphs down, kicks us right in the shin. “Original statewide coverage of New Mexico news is essentially limited to the Journal, a smallish AP presence and three television stations,” he writes.

Joe Monahan is a big stupid poopy head, and he is NOT invited to our birthday party!

We're putting "poopy head" on our top ten list of best scatological criticisms ever received here. But, more urgently, how do we get back on the birthday list? Well, we define "original statewide coverage" as including subjects other than government and public affairs, which NMI specializes in. That means coverage of crime, plane crashes etc...

If that doesn't get us in the party, we'll promise to come with Godiva.


And another note from the press beat. Longtime ABQ Journal columnist Jim Belshaw has bid adieu and will no longer pen his popular prose for the paper. Belshaw has been writing the column since the 80's. Remember when he was Jim Arnholz? He takes a lot of institutional memory with him as does NM columnist Ned Cantwell whose column also ended this month.

If a news junkie is going to retire, 2009 is not a bad year to do it. 2008 was one of the epic news years of the last century. It will nourish the memories of the old-timers who now rest their eyes from the glare of La Politica. So goes this passing parade of ours....

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