Friday, May 06, 2011

Our Newsy Cinco de Mayo Lunch; Senate Leader Says Week Is Enough For Special Redistricting Session, Plus: More End Of Week La Politica 

-Whenever we run into State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez at the Barelas Coffee House nestled in the South Valley of ABQ, we seem to come away some news tidbits. So it was when we stopped there on Cinco de Mayo for lunch with a couple of Alligators. While waiting for our enchiladas Sanchez strolled in and we took the opportunity to quiz him on a subject that is on the minds of a lot of politicos--the upcoming special legislative session over redistricting.

The leader said the month of September is certain for the session which will be called by the Governor. So what about the speculation that the Guv could load up the agenda and the lawmakers could be up in Santa Fe for much longer than imagined.

"I have heard that, but I haven't heard that from her," he responded.

Sanchez guessed that the session to redraw the 112 legislative and three congressional districts to conform with the 2010 census will last about a week--seven days or so. He agreed that longer than that could cause hardship for the citizen lawmakers, many of whom have job and business responsibilities.

The leader also had some good news for the state construction industry. He said the $225 capital outlay bill that was stalled for political reasons in the final moments of the session that concluded in March should have no trouble winning approval in the special September session. Gov. Martinez has said she will put it on the agenda and Sanchez says "we need to do it to get things moving." Those "things" mean jobs and the economy.

We're hearing that several GOP lawmakers are already expressing concern that Martinez could come with a special session agenda laden with subjects that could keep them in Santa Fe much longer than a week. They are not happy about that prospect. Martinez has said the capital outlay bill will be put on the agenda along with the redistricting. She has not yet revealed a broader special session agenda that is causing the concern.

For his part, Sanchez pointed out that the Legislature could call itself into special session while in Santa Fe and pursue a crowded agenda of its own, but he is not going to encourage that.

The majority leader seems to be of a mind if God made the Earth in seven days, surely the legislature can do a redistricting session in a similar amount of time.


First the news:

President Obama is expected to address border trade and security issues Tuesday during his second visit to El Paso in less than a year next week and then head off to attend a fundraiser in Austin, El Paso Mayor John Cook told The Associated Press Thursday that he has received information that Obama will visit Chamizal National Memorial, on the U.S.-Mexico border, a few blocks from downtown El Paso.

The AP adds:

The White House says President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on immigration when he visits El Paso next Tuesday.

It will be the latest in a string of events the White House has devoted to immigration policy despite an unfavorable climate on Capitol Hill for passing the kind of comprehensive legislation Obama favors.

And the analysis. Well, border trade is very important, but a mile from where Obama will be in downtown El Paso, it's like the killing fields. The spectacular failure to end the drug wars is a black mark on the Mexican government and maybe on Obama's White House. Has the USA done all it can to stop the blood from flowing in the streets?

It is a real moral contradiction to have the President urges good trade relations while the biggest item of trade is illegal drugs and the value of human life is so demeaned on our doorstep. Can't the US be more vigorous in its involvement?

On the political front, the President's support among Hispanics has taken a dive. That's another reason for his attention to El Paso which will also get him into the New Mexico media market.


Senate contender Hector Balderas has come with another round of endorsements (full list here). While it shows he has traction in the north, the list is very light on any ABQ or southern supporters, big holes he is going to have to fill as he attempts to beat ABQ US Rep. Martin Heinrich for the nomination.

Some of the Balderas supporters:

State Senator Carlos Cisneros, State Senator David Ulibarri, State Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela, Rep. Thomas Garcia, District Attorney Richard Flores, District Attorney Donald Gallegos, Taos County Commissioner Dan Barrone, Taos City Councilor Rudy Abeyta and Taos City Councilor Michael Silva.

This quote of one of the endorsers caught our attention:

Although Hector is committed to cutting spending, he will always make the needed investments in education,” Las Vegas City School Board Member Ricky Serna added.

As we've said before, the cost-cutting and "fiscal accountability" that Balderas is pushing is a pretty conservative message for a Democratic primary. You can see why the major labor unions are with Heinrich.

His team feels the fiscal message combined with his strong ethics record as auditor will do the trick. But is he shooting over the heads of the electorate? We'll see.

And some clarification on the advisors to the Balderas campaign. A former staffer for the 2o10 Diane Denish Dem Guv campaign told us that Hilltop Consulting in DC was involved in the Denish campaign. A Balderas associate says Ken Morely of Hilltop, not Mo Elleithee of Hilltop who is now helping Balderas, was the general consultant for Denish and not the "message consultant." They say the message consultant was Dawn Laguens, not of Hilltop.

They say the last NM campaign that Elleithee was involved in here was the Udall Senate campaign in 2008 where they say "the messaging turned out just fine." Elleithee is now consulting Balderas.

The messaging of the Denish campaign came under intense criticism in the final weeks of the Guv campaign.


James Thorson, a UNM emeritus professor of English, writes:

When are the Democrats (or the teachers, who are directly affected) going to come down on our Republican Governor about not raising taxes? That may be true for the business people she was addressing recently, but a tax has been levied on everybody in education by way of a 1.75 % retirement "contribution" that does not go to the ERA fund but into the tax coffers to help balance the budget.

Point taken, Jim. And we're glad you did not correct our English or that would have been a really long email.

To offset the pension pay cuts, the paper reports "UNM President Schmidly will propose one-time pay increases for staff and merit benefits for faculty if enrollments and tuition revenues increase next fall."

Democrat Michael Corwin ran against and lost to newly announced city council candidate Greg Payne when the two squared off for a far NE Heights legislative seat in 2004. Although he came up short, Corwin thinks the contest showed that Payne will be vulnerable to hits from fellow Republican and incumbent City Councilor Trudy Jones who Payne is challenging:

....I got 44% in 2004 when Democratic congressional candidate Richard Romero got 31% and John Kerry got 39% from the voter's of District 31. Payne spent almost $60,000 on the race and was in from the get go. I spent $12K and didn't come in the race until September. I had no name recognition and was publicly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. Obviously, many in the district did not share my positions. But, I got more Republican support than any other Dem ever did. The reason: countless numbers of Republicans approached me to say that they had never crossed party lines, but did so because Payne's well-documented behavior was an anathema to them. Pretty hard to think that has changed or that Trudy Jones can't capitalize on it.

We blogged yesterday that Payne was doing contract work for PR agency DW Turner. A spokesman for the firm said Payne did do work for them last year, but is not currently under contract.


Some thinkers around here believe as the California economy goes, so goes New Mexico. If so, here is a bit of good news:

State officials are reporting an unexpected $2-billion surge in tax receipts that will help lawmakers close the remaining $15-billion budget deficit, and the Capitol is humming with hope that more is coming. But the windfall could complicate Gov. Jerry Brown's push for tax increases, which he says are needed for California's longer-term financial health.

NM tax collections have picked up some in recent weeks as well. The question is whether the pick-up has staying power.

Thanks for the company this week. This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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