Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kilmer Takes A Hit From Denish Fan: Guv Game On? Plus: Reality TV in Santa Fe, And: ABQ & UNM Budgets Make For Busy Blogging 

Val Kilmer
Actor Val Kilmer's continued flirtation with a possible run for the Democratic nomination for Governor next year is no longer amusing to some backers of Lt. Governor Diane Denish. The last straw for them was this statement the part-time NM resident Kilmer made to the Boston Globe at the inauguration of President Obama:

"There are a lot of actors who become politicians," he said, citing Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as examples. "And they always win, so I guess we'll see."

The statement came on the heels of an eyebrow raising photo of Kilmer attending a University of New Mexico basketball game with major Big Bill friend and financial backer Gerald Peters. (Peters told the press he supports Denish.)

It's all too much for former Gallup mayor, attorney and Di backer Bob Rosebrough who unloads on Kilmer:

We are in tough times that call for real leadership. Kilmer is the antithesis of what we need...Kilmer appears to be a privileged, pampered celebrity. We can't relate to him and we don't sense that he has any idea how to get us through hard times. His flirtations with elected office don't seem real or genuine. They simply appear to be self indulgent. I'm not sure if there ever will be a right time for Kilmer to run for Governor, but this sure isn't the time. We don't need celebrity right now. We need some homegrown backbone and resolve.

And there you have the first hit on Val, who has a knack for entertainment and has used it well in this flirtatious stage of Campaign '10. But if Kilmer decides to launch a full scale courtship of New Mexico Democrats, Di's diehards are ready to make it a rocky romance. Wonder if Val's pals have any thoughts on that?

ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones ignored a request from House tax committee chair Ed Sandoval that she end her Webcasting of the committee session and on the World Wide Web it went. She says 89 individuals tuned in to the brief organizational meeting of the committee, but in this case it wasn't the number but just the fact that we finally got something on the Net from Santa Fe. The legislative leadership says it is going to review the rules on Webcasting. If they stop Arnold-Jones' effort, they risk some nasty press. Why not just get on with the Webcasting already authorized by the Legislature, but abruptly repealed?

The Senate Monday said it would reconsider putting back up cameras it has taken down, but there appeared to be no rush. Arnold-Jones' hearings are being broadcast from this site where a schedule is also posted.


Scuttlebutt about Arnold-Jones and whether she might make a 2010 run for the congressional seat held by Dem Martin Heinrich has grown louder since she started received good press notices over her Webcast plans. The GOP has no obvious name contender to take on Heinrich. Arnold-Jones was approached by party insiders in 2008 about making the run, but she did not want to give up her safe Republican state House seat. If Heinrich looks vulnerable at the end of the year, her name could be in play again.

The usually dry topic of the city budget is front and center in this mayoral election year and it provided the fodder for quite a riveting exchange last night between City Councilor and mayoral candiate Michael Cadigan and Anna Lamberson, the city's chief financial officer. Cadigan was pushing for an across the board budget slash in all city departments for the fiscal year that ends June 30. The city has a budget shortfall of up to $20 million. Cadigan's bill was rejected by the council's finance committee. But in his to and fro with Lamberson it was revealed that the next fiscal year--the one that starts July 1 could be most challenging.

Cadigan wondered if the lousy economy continues and tax collections slide, how will the city pay for big pay increases negotiated with the police---a seven percent boost--and the fire department--a five percent hike? Lamberson responded that if that scenario unfolded the city would be looking at "some real cuts." She and the mayor have been making ends meet by not filling numerous vacant city positions and no layoffs will take place in the final months of this fiscal year. These big public safety raises could clash with the needs of other city services and it could unfold in the middle of the battle for the mayor's office.


ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez has tried to soften his image with enviros in recent years, but it's not always easy.

A memo to faculty and staff was released by the office of University of New Mexico President David Schmidly Monday. This followed our blogs and press reports questioning big paychecks for UNM administrators in light of the fiscal train wreck the state is facing. It was sent to us by a Senior Alligator.

...We will indefinitely freeze executive compensation of the President, Executive Vice Presidents and main campus Vice Presidents, including salaries, allowances and deferred compensation. We will develop a comprehensive University-wide policy on deferred compensation, which we will submit to the UNM Board of Regents...

Through the end of fiscal year 2009-2010, we will freeze all increases in compensation for all Main Campus non-academic administrative staff earning more than $125,000 annually. We have finalized these steps over the past several days and have shared our intentions with the Legislature. I am gratified to receive the following messages of support:

From Sen. Cisco McSorley: "This is a great first step and good news for those of us who have been concerned about executive compensation..."

From Rep. Larry Larranaga: "Though I had concerns about executive compensation, I am heartened to see that the University is taking the lead and revisiting old policies..."

Our blogging and an initial ABQ Journal report centered on the pay of UNM executive VP David Harris who, according to the paper, is being paid $428,000 a year as well as deferred compensation. A university spokeswoman disputes that figure.

As for freezing salaries, it seems UNM is getting sensitive to the pay issue, but keep in mind they are freezing paycheck at levels that are already being challenged as too high. Also, salary increases are highly unlikely anyway. Some legislators may look for salary roll backs from university high rollers if state revenue continues to dry up.


A reader sends this announcement and asks: "Is this for real?"

"House Bill 214, sponsored by Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera, would appropriate $500,000 for the Ben Luján Leadership and Public Policy Institute at New Mexico Highlands University. The bill says the institute explores New Mexico policy issues and would be responsible for developing "a curriculum for use by New Mexico schools dealing with youth entrepreneurship."

And you thought there was a $450 million budget shortfall?


Another reader recently visited the federal courthouse in downtown ABQ and gave us this report

A federal employee of the court goes to work in the courthouse last Wednesday and sees George W. Bush's photo above the security machines at the entrance and asks, "Why is there a private citizen's picture hanging in this federal office building?"...The photo is gone by the next morning from the entrance of the place where David Iglesias formerly worked as U.S. Attorney and was run off by said George W. Bush.


Another reader wonders about our recent awarding of the rare title of "Senior Alligator" to a source reporting on the Legislature:

Joe, you wrote:

"There aren't many of them (Senior Alligators) because you have to have been playing in La Politica for at least 20 consecutive years, be at least 45 years of age and preferably have run for and lost a bid for political office.”

However, in a previous post (I don’t recall exactly when) you stated something along the lines that the 20 years need not necessarily have been in New Mexico. Have you changed the rules by making the group even more exclusive? You could be leaving out some pretty experienced old wheels.

No the rules have not changed. The 20 years can include experience outside of NM, such as D.C. But for obvious reasons, we prefer direct experience in La Politica. We also like them to have a high net worth so they can buy us lunch, but it's not a requirement.


Lara & Lopez
We were treated to lunch just the other day by Andrew Leo Lopez, an out in the open ABQ South Valley Alligator. Well, he was paying off one of his errant 2008 election bets he made with us, so it wasn't exactly a treat for him. Coming along for the ride was Robert Lara, a recent University of New Mexico Law School graduate, who was the winner of our recent photo caption contest and scored a free lunch for his effort.

Over generous servings of enchiladas and chicaronnes, we discussed the latest buzz. Will that federal grand jury indict aides to Big Bill or Bill himself? Lopez and Lara thought the odds higher that Bill would be hit than we did. How much economic damage is this business downturn going to do to the state? Quite a bit and more to come. What about the ABQ mayor's race? All agreed that Mayor Chavez is in a commanding position, but let's see the campaign.

Congrats to Robert and good luck to him with the bar exam which he will soon take. As for Lopez, line up our next free lunch, Andrew. I told you not to bet Obama would lose.


We noticed one of the restaurant chains that we reported as closing its doors--Black Angus--is still open. Turns out they have filed for bankruptcy but are going to try to keep open the doors to its 69 national locations, including the one in ABQ. We'll see...

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