Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: GOP MIA On Lower Ballot Races, Plus: The Readers Debate The Blogger 

  • Former President Bill Clinton delivers eulogy at funeral of former Governor King Saturday morning. Video here. About 2,000 mourners attended services at the Moriarty High School Gym. Four of the five living former Governors were there as well as ex-Sen. Domenici

  • The AP wrap on the funeral is here.

An old worry is back for NM Republicans. They are top heavy. While there is no shortage of 2010 GOP candidates for Governor or lieutenant governor--four Guv contenders are on the field--there is nary a Republican yet seeking to become State Auditor, State Treasurer, or Attorney General.

The R's do have a spirited three way race for Land Commissioner, a position they currently hold and have had some luck with in the past, but efforts to recruit candidates for the other statewide offices seem to have hit the wall.

Not that even a solid R candidate has much of a chance in Dem dominated NM to take a statewide office. The last GOP Auditor and Treasurer was in the 60's and the last GOP attorney general was elected in 1986. But with no names on the ballot, there is zero chance of pulling an upset.

R's expect to eventually have candidates for the offices, but with no early entrants raising money, they are signaling they are not prepared to seriously contest the re-election bids of of Attorney General Gary King, Auditor Hector Balderas or Treasurer James B. Lewis.


Let's catch up on the mail. Reader Jane Babcock has a bone to pick when it comes to coverage of the candidates for Bernalillo County Sheriff. The county commission Nov. 30 will name a replacement for Darren White who is going to work for the city. Here's Jane:

Why are you ignoring the most qualified candidate for the Sheriff's position, Marie Miranda? Is it because she is not part of the old boys network? She recently retired as a Deputy Chief II, has a masters, cleaned up the (ABQ police department) evidence room mess, was a Deputy Secretary of the NM Department of Public Safety and started up the ABQ Homeland Security Department...

...Her integrity is unquestioned, her management ability is first rate, her resume doesn't have to be padded...and unlike your buddy, she is devoid of questionable activities and background. Perhaps, your prejudices are showing.

Give me a break, Jane. We don't have a dog--or a "buddy" in the sheriff's fight. We blogged what the insiders and Alligators told us--that Cris Sanchez and Conrad Candelaria were leading prospects to get the appointment. Sanchez has since dropped out. We're not slighting Marie. We're handicapping the game.

But you did get your plaudits in for your choice. Just don't confuse the message coming from downtown with this messenger.


Let's do some more back and forth. First, reader Mary Vermillion weighs in and then we respond:

I've been surprised twice this week by comments on your blog. The first was when you referred to what you called "do nothing as policy" in the (Governor) Johnson years. As I recall, the policy of those years was fiscal restraint, and as a result, New Mexico was in good shape when the dot com bubble burst and things went south after 9/11. In contrast to the spend as if there's no tomorrow of Bill Richardson, that "do nothing" looks pretty sane.

The second was your description of the AP as a pure news gathering organization without an agenda. I seem to remember reading this year about AP's having adopted a policy of "accountability journalism"--a euphemism for the inclusion of substantial bits of opinion in "news" stories. And AP's having assigned eleven (!) reporters to fact-check Palin's book doesn't look much like pure news gathering.

Thanks, Mary. Well, the Johnson years were indeed ones of fiscal restraint, but we made little, if any progress, in moving the needle on NM social ills and continued to rank near the bottom in key measurements throughout his term.

Also, the major economic development program under Gary was pueblo-run Indian gambling, not known for high-paying salaries. The hi-tech boom--whose ill effects Mary contends we were spared--passed us by. Johnson was unable to deliver on his campaign pledge to bring more private business and high paying jobs to the state (Not that the current administration has had much success, either).

History will give high marks to Johnson for being a responsible manager and for running a government free of major corruption. He served honorably. However, his inability to work with the Legislature resulted in a "do nothing" administration when it came to attacking the myriad social ills that plagued the state then and now.

As for the AP, we don't see "accountability journalism" that reveals bias in their New Mexico coverage, which is our primary concern. And what's wrong with fact-checking the book of a major national political figure like Sarah Palin? Isn't that what we do when people talk about becoming President of the United States?


We're also fielding mail from state employees about the five day furlough ordered by Governor Richardson to deal with the huge budget shortfall. This writer vented anonymously:

I am a state employee who is faced with trying to determine where to cut groceries, utilities, Christmas spending...I can accept the furlough...However, I looked at the salaries at executive agencies and must ask how did the agency on aging become a full Department? Military affairs? Where did some of these commissions come from? Do we need them or should we place higher expectations on persons employed in these areas? For example, why isn't the Department of Homeland Security part of the Department of Public Safety?

Why not consolidate programs and eliminate some high salaried executives? Why are we paying outlandish rents for private buildings when there are vacant government buildings? I am not placing the blame on any branch of government, just venting.

And a good vent it was. And it's also a reminder to the public and policy makers that most state workers are pulling down decidedly middle-class salaries. It is the excessive bloating at the top of the pyramid that is the big problem.

Could we make a suggestion to the Guv and Legislature?

If we have to have more furlough days can't those making salaries of over $80,000 be required to take more days off than the secretaries, custodians and other working stiffs who are the backbone of the government? It may sound equitable that all state employees have to be furloughed for the same amount of time, but in reality it is not.


We omitted the name of GOP activist Bea Sheridan as an R candidate for lieutenant governor when we blogged recently about the entry of ABQ state Senator Kent Cravens into the race. That's probably because insiders expect her to switch gears and seek the Secretary of State slot under the R banner...

We had a typo in our blog on the latest city appointments by Mayor-elect Berry. Robin Dozier Otten, the incoming Family Services Department director, served as Human Services Secretary in the Johnson administration, not Human Resources.

By the way, KOB-TV reports that while most of the department heads Mayor-elect Berry announced this week have been given starting salaries of $97,000, Dozier Otten is starting at $107,000 a year. Valerie Vigil, who has served in the post for eight years, currently makes $97,000.

Thanks for tuning in this week. Send along your news and comments via email.

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