Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Someone Is Hiring: NM GOP Looks For Top Gun, Plus: A NM Classic: Rep Fears Cameras Will Catch Him Asleep, Also: More Layoffs Hit 

Attention unemployed Alligators: We've got a job for you. But you have to have experience herding cats. The job is executive director of the NM Republican Party. While managing the day-to-day affairs of the torn apart party will demand the patience of Job, you will get fairly compensated for your ulcer. The advertising for the position puts the pay between $70,000 to $110,00 a year, depending on experience. The GOP also throws in a benefits package. Hopefully, that includes mental health coverage. The ED will command a paid staff of six and numerous volunteers.

New GOP Chair Harvey Yates is looking for some new faces--or at least a sizable portion of the R's who elected him want new faces in charge. If he doesn't bring a new crew in without ties to the faction that supported former Chairman Allen Weh, he could see his support dwindle. As for where the party should go idea-wise, well, that's a whole other story. Meanwhile, for all you ED hopefuls here is where to send in your bona fides: Resume and Summary of Demonstrated Experience To: Tiffany Kardeen--tkardeen@gopnm.org.


There's some new-found popularity for Republicans--among certain Democrats. Our insiders report several Democratic state Senators showed up Monday night at the annual reception held in honor of Republican legislators at the Inn and Spa at Loretto. What were they doing there, wondered more than one lobbyist. The "they" were brand new Senators George Munoz, John Sapien and Tim Eichenberg. Munoz and Sapien had already been on R territory earlier in the session when they voted with the R's to make Dem conservative Senator Tim Jennings the president pro tem, rejecting the Dem caucus choice of Sen. Cisneros.

Sapien and Eichenberg both represent semi-conservative ABQ metro districts. Munoz is a wild card. All three are walking a fine line--staying in touch with the conservative sides of their district while trying not to alienate their fellow Dem lawmakers.


That GOP legislative reception went off at $250 bucks a pop. The NM Oil and Gas Association was one of the prime sponsors. It has close ties to GOP Chair Yates who has spent his life in the oil business. In his speech Yates said much of the money raised will go to put muscle into county Republican parties. That was a sore point under chair Allen Weh. County GOP chiefs said they were slighted in favor of the congressional candidates.

Still, as we mentioned earlier, skepticism still surrounds Yates because of the intense infighting the party has seen. Several state reps at the reception, we're told, fretted over the faction of R's that coalesced for so long around lawyer/lobbyist Mickey Barnett and ex-Rep Heather Wilson. They want their acolytes and associated staffers and consultants whisked away. They fear Yates will not clean the house. Well, maybe that's what the new executive director can do. But will possible GOP Guv candidate Wilson have other ideas?

Rep. Begaye
It's a New Mexico classic. In discussing why he did not want sessions of the Legislature shown on the Internet, Rep. Ray Begaye of Shiprock declared:

"If I am sleeping and I am being recorded, that can be used as political gain."

Thanks to KRQE-TV cameras, we have this one for posterity.

Who the heck do Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico think they are to try to interrupt your nap, Ray? What's this world coming to when a guy can't catch some shut eye on the job? Hey, Senators, can you send some of those cots you have stored for filibusters over to the House side? We wouldn't want to see your House colleagues sleep-deprived. They might lose all contact with reality and decide not to allow sessions of the House and Senate to be shown on the Net!


They're still punting on whether to allow ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones to use her homemade kit to transmit her committee hearings over the Web. She is doing so on her own accord. House Speaker Lujan looks as pleased about it as hearing Bennie Shendo talk about his congressman son. But the Dems would be silly to block it at this point--and the R's--well, what can you say? It's a prime opportunity to win points with the public but GOP Senate Leader Ingle is as quiet as the main drag in Clovis on Sunday night. Not exactly how you rebuild a political party, Stu.

The future of the Arnold-Jones' Webcasts is up in the air. A House subcommittee will be formed to study the impact of Webcasts. But don't expect anything to happen.

As for putting back state purchased cameras that were intended to officially broadcast House and Senate floor sessions this session but have since been removed, that's about as likely as a banker refusing a bailout.


The Las Vegas Optic joins a long line of NM newspapers feeling the deep sting of this recession. The paper will cut publication from five to three days a week. Ad revenues won't support more. Last year the ABQ Tribune closed and the Santa Fe New Mexican announced layoffs. This year an undetermined number of layoffs at the ABQ Journal came, as well as staff cuts at two of ABQ's big three network affiliated TV stations.


All bets are off when it comes to accepting at face value any company or government statement that workers' jobs are safe. Just last week, Intel said it did not appear there would be more layoffs at their plant in Rio Rancho, but it turns out there will be--100 to 200 employees will be let go in the next two months. That will take the workforce there--once 5,200--down to near the 3,000 level. It is a major hit to Rio Rancho, already reeling from last year's Intel layoffs of 1,100. Look for housing prices there to possibly sink further as well as tax receipts.

The job losses keep coming. Target, with four stores in ABQ and one in Rio Rancho, announces layoffs. The Governor needs to be absolutely riding herd on all his agencies dealing with the thousands of New Mexicans losing their jobs. If Bill needs more hands on decks, can he move staff from Economic Development to help out? We aren't doing any economic development for a long time to come.


Reader Sarah Nezzer writes of of our coverage of salaries at the University of Mexico:

I'm a student employee and a student at UNM...I've seen the University become something unrecognizable. From an overwhelming focus on athletes and the outrageous abuse of upper administration of our dollars, I don't recognize this institution anymore...And that is why I thank you for your coverage...I am utterly baffled that UNM, which commands such a large chunk of taxpayer dollars...is so notably absent from the news. At least, these inner workings are...This is everyone's money. Why then are students and staff left to fight this battle alone? Channel 13 news mentioned your blog and your comments on this issue. So, thanks. It is nice to know that someone is paying attention to us.

Thank you, Sarah.


NM Congressman Harry Teague says if that $4700 pay raise he is opposing stays in effect---as is highly likely--he will not collect it.

"He will do one of two things--either donate it to a local charity that supports families affected by the economic downturn or return it to the US Treasury," said Teague's office.

We blogged about Teague and Dem Congressmen Martin Heinrich opposing the automatic pay raise for US House members. With Teague saying he will turn the raise back. That leaves longtime R's like Kathy Leyendecker to ask what Heinrich will do:

I read your blog about Rep. Heinrich co-sponsoring the “Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act” bill blocking a $4,700 automatic pay hike for members of Congress...(ABQ GOP) Congressman Steve Schiff (1989-'98) donated his pay raise in 1989 (I think a little over $2,000) to charity...Because the raise passed without any public input, he could not, in good conscience, accept that money. I hope our current Congressional delegation will be willing to put our money where their mouths are...Steve Schiff always talked the talk and walked the walk. Ah, the good old days--how we miss them.

Steve is fondly remembered. Martin has not yet said whether he will keep or reject the raise he is opposing. Senator Udall is now saying he will oppose the raise. Bingaman says he will defer to the congressional leadership. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan now says he will vote against the raise. We blogged earlier that it appeared he would not fight it. We will try to find out if Udall, Heinirch and Lujan will give the raise back, like Teague, if it stays in effect.

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