Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bear Mauls Again; Obama Polling Unsteady In NM, Plus: APD Lawsuit Costs Zoom, And: More Of The Greatest Hits Of Jerome Block, Jr. 

Can Obama hang in here? He has a sub-par 46% average approval rating in New Mexico for the first half of this year, says the Gallup Poll, but everything seems up in the air--with the notable exception of the stock market. The president has leaked support here along with the economy. Unlike 2008, when we were technically a "swing state," this time it looks like it will be the real deal.

Uncertainty, anger, disgust and hopelessness are the emotions we see and hear on the ground in reaction to what is happening on Wall Street and Main Street.

We expect to see Obama on the ground here sooner rather than later, but what will he say? A presidential visit is usually a special event for a small state like ours. Obama now must fight for the ear of an audience increasingly restive and yearning for strong and assured leadership.

As for the immediate impact around here of the renewed market turmoil, keep your eye on oil and natural gas prices. Oil at a hundred bucks a barrel has given the state a needed boost. It's now trading near $80. Natural gas has been less robust, but royalties from it are still important. It has now plunged before $4.

The only thing certain going forward seems to be more uncertainty.


On the Dem nomination for US Senate between Martin Heinrich and Hector Balderas via AP:

"Both are good Democrats, both are good moderates," said Jamie Koch, a former party chairman. "I think Martin Heinrich has probably got the inside track at this point." But Balderas showed how formidable an opponent he might be by raising $407,635 his first quarter in the race to Heinrich's $485,244.

Balderas' Hispanic surname could give him an edge in the primary, if he raises enough money, said veteran Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff..

Balderas and Heinrich may become moderates, as Koch indicates, but right now they are keeping it to the left as they curry favor with activist Dems who vote in primaries.


It's the new deal. If you're a Republican governor or senator and Hispanic you are automatically entered in the 2012 Veep sweepstakes. That includes new Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.


Former ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones comes with
her web site as she competes for the ABQ GOP US House nomination against City Councilor Dan Lewis. Some lines of interest:

I understand the critical missions of our national laboratories and the military installations in New Mexico, especially Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland Air Force Base. In Congress, I will defend the mission of these institutions that are so vital to our economy and our national security, and I will help guide the process through which their missions will, inevitably, change over time.

Arnold-Jones is a senior executive with EnergySolutions, an international nuclear services company

Her statement raises the question of whether tea party types can or want to make a distinction on their desire to cut federal spending. Do they want NM money and jobs sacrificed on the deficit altar? Arnold-Jones doesn't seem to or at least she thinks the voters she is going after don't.


There's a key money line in the controversy over the Feds ordering tougher pollution control at PNM's Four Corners plant:

PNM estimates installing that technology would cost more than $750 million and call into question the plant's long-term viability. The federal agency counters with its own estimate that the requirements will cost only about $229 million.

That's a huge difference and if the lower amount prevailed, the impact on the company and consumers would be substantially lower than PNM asserts.


Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado we present to you another of the greatest hits of Jerome Block, Jr.

Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr., already accused of misusing campaign money and under investigation for questionable charges on his state-issued gas card, is now a suspect in a stolen vehicle case, according to Santa Fe police.

Police told KOB-TV that Block is accused of test driving a used Honda from Capitol City Auto and never returning it. Police say the car was missing for three weeks before it was found undamaged last week on the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe.

Hey, was Carlos Fierro a passenger in that car? By the way, there's no truth to the rumor that Block drove the Democratic Party over a cliff in that stolen car, but there's still plenty of time.


A retired APD office, monitoring the ongoing controversy with city police and the Berry administration, comes with the numbers on how much police shootings are costing taxpayers:

Here is the list so far (taken from media reports):

Roderick Jones $950,000 (settled in 2011)
Tera Chavez $230,000 (settled in 2011)
Kevin Lowery $495,000 (settled in 2011)
Robert Gonzales $1,300,000 (settled in December 2010)
Michael Lee $950,000 (settled in 2011)
Andrew Lopez $417,000 (settled in 2011, although Judge Baca allowed for $4,250,000)
Sam Costales $950,000 ( settled in October of 2009)
Regensberg $685,000 (2009)

These are the ones that I found in an Internet search. I am sure a search at NM Courts and US Civil Court will reflect a lot more cases, we just haven't been told about. If my math is correct, since 2009 this is almost $6,000,000 taxpayers dollars spent on APD lawsuits and Ray Schultz is still the chief. Amazing.

A lot of police equipment could have been purchased for that amount of money. I see my taxes going up, do you?

Taxes going up? Maybe. We need to hear how much money the city has in its risk management fund. If it is depleted by these and future lawsuits, taxes would indeed have to make up any shortfall. The numbers being paid are already a significant story and could be a really big one going forward.


Mayor Berry has softened his position on a possible Department of Justice investigation of the fatal police shootings. A Senior Alligator reacts;

Berry has wisely decided to join the opposition rather that continue to oppose the DOJ investigation. It is a wise move but fraught with danger for him if he continues to justify Chief Schultz' methods. The DOJ needs to look at where the APD is recruiting and hiring. Many of us think they are hiring from culturally different areas such as Texas, Colorado and Arizona.


You did good, Guv:

Union Pacific Railroad announced Monday the construction commencement of an all-new rail facility just outside Santa Teresa. Joined by Governor Susana Martinez, Union Pacific celebrated the initial preparation work for the 2,200 acre site. The company plans to invest $400 million toward the total cost of a project that is expected to add $500 million to the New Mexico economy. The rail facility site is located just west of the Santa Teresa Airport and will include fueling facilities, crew change buildings, locomotive inspection tracks, an intermodal ramp and a switching yard....

And the Legislature and Senator Bingaman also get a pat on the back for getting this going.


How could we go a day without mentioning driver's licenses for illegal aliens? Heck, it's like eating just one potato chip--you just can't do it. So forgive us, but:

New Mexico is one of the last battlegrounds when it comes to granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. A dozen states in the last 10 years have repealed laws that allowed people to obtain driver's licenses without proof of immigration status. Legislatures from Hawaii to California, from Michigan to Maine, have overturned laws similar to the one New Mexico is fighting over.

And when the special session of the Legislature convenes September 6 you will get even more driver's license news--just in case you were worried about missing any.


Who says the Governor doesn't take her responsibilities seriously--all of them:

Following her various engagements, Martinez threw the first pitch at the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington Friday night. She said she threw 50 to 60 pitches Thursday night in preparation and had to ice her shoulder to get ready for Friday...

Now she's going to work on throwing strikes during the special legislative session...

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