Thursday, March 05, 2009

GOP Leader Not Of Mind To Oppose Koch Nomination, But UNM Opposition Spreads, Plus: Darren's Bad Luck, And: A NM President in D.C. 

Sen. Ingle
There was some good news for University of New Mexico Regents Chairman Jamie Koch in a brief conversation we had with state Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle. The east side lawmaker indicated he was not of a mind to oppose Koch's confirmation to a second six year term as a regent, despite the controversy that continues to rage over the Santa Fe businessman's stewardship. Ingle felt much of the dissatisfaction with Koch centered with faculty and was not widespread enough to justify his ouster. Ingle did not say he would vote for Koch who is being nominated again by Governor Richardson, but you get the picture. If the R's are not going to against Koch, the regent with long Dem ties should be safe.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Linda Lopez has promised tough questions for Koch. A hearing has yet to be scheduled. The full Senate would vote on the nomination after it comes out of committee. If the political earth is going to shake more on this one, it seems it willl be up to the South Valley lawmaker or a Governor who reverses course.


Despite the probability of another term, Koch, a former chairman of the NM Democratic Party, will face a rocky road at UNM in the years ahead and that may mean more problems for the school's image. On the heels of the faculty voting for a no-confidence resolution in Koch, UNM President Schmidly and VP David Harris, Tuesday night the UNM Graduate and Professional Students Association passed two resolutions of no confidence: One for the Administration as a whole and one for Koch.

Koch, as his style, has pushed back against his critics, getting a favorable editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican and penning an op-ed piece for the Journal, but he can't escape the media heat. V.B. Price, a UNM watcher of 45 years standing and one of the state's leading liberal writers, continued the drumbeat on Koch and company calling on the Governor to make things right:

...I’ve supported the governor...and think he’s done a lot of good..But he has made a terrible mess of the University of New Mexico, appointing regents who apparently know nothing about the operation of a university and have no sympathy for any part of its primary mission, and depositing in the president’s office two people who’ve earned the enmity of the university community. It’s time for him to make things right, to...weed out the ineffective and the arrogantly incompetent...

Complicating this matter politically is Koch's service as the finance co-chair for Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish's Dem guv campaign. Big Bill is already being roasted for politicizing the university with the appointment of his old friend Koch and others. If Jamie is still on the board and Di becomes Governor, the hot potato will be hers. What does she think of all this?


Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White's luck hasn't improved much since he was landlslided by Dem Martin Henrich for the ABQ congressional seat. Darren and his SWAT team staked out a house for over eight hours Tuesday where they believed a killer was holed up only to figure out at 1 in the morning that no one was there. Kind of like what happened to the sheriff Election Night...

And here's the mug shot that Darren hoped he would never see---the "official" photograph of Congresman Heinrich released by his D.C. office. During the campaign, some of White's supporters released an old photo of Heinrich showing the future congressman sporting shoulder length hair, hoping that it might cause some image damage, but it looks like the 37 year old has found a good barber on Capitol Hill--not to mention some good committee assignments.

Heinrich, earlier elected president of his freshman House class, has, his office confirms, also added this to his duties:

"Rep. Heinrich is a Regional Whip for Region 6 which includes the Representatives in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. From Region 6, Rep. Heinrich focuses on the Members from New Mexico and Arizona.

In his spare time he reads nuclear power blueprints.

Lenton Malry
Longtime NM politico Lenton Malry, 67, is kicking back a bit these days. The former Bernalillo County Commissioner and the state's first Black state legislator, tells us he is now switched to part-time as a neighborhood coordinator for the county. The full-time position is now filled by Bernadette Miera, who was formerly the assistant to Bernalillo County Commissioner Teresa Cordova who lost her seat in '08 to Art De La Cruz. Bernadette is the wife of ABQ Dem State Rep. Rick Miera.

And for those wondering why the budget for Bernalillo County is not feeling as much as pain as the city of ABQ's, there is a simple explanation. The city gets most of its tax money from the gross receipts tax which fluctuates with consumer activity. The county gets much of its revenues from the much more stable and predictable property tax.

One other thing. City Councilor Sanchez, who we interviewed on the city budget on the Wednesday blog, agrees with our Alligators that the recent hiring of a city "transportation czar" at a salary of $102,000 was over the top considering the times we are in. Not that he still doesn't love you, Mayor.

Kelly-Renae Edwards
When she served as an intern to Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman, Kelly-Renae Edwards said someday she wanted to be President of the USA. Well, you have to start somewhere so we note Kelly-Renae's ascension to the presidency of the NM State Society for 2009. The senior legislative assistant for Public Service Company of NM will preside over a variety of events for New Mexicans making D.C their home, including the Cherry Blossom Festival and the Red and Green Holiday party. Get busy, Madame President.

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