Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The DC Chopping Block: Is NM On It? Plus: The Martinez Heritage; Grandparents Were Illegal Immigrants, And: Lewis Bolts From Mayor Berry 

NM's US Senators
New Mexico's economy could melt like a stick of butter in a hot Tucumcari parking lot if this veer to the right over federal spending extends over a period of years. Already, proposed budget increases for the big national labs--Los Alamos and Sandia Labs--are being called into question. And plans to take the cleaver to the national defense budget if future debt reduction fails strikes at the heart of the state.

Maybe we'll all stay oblivious and vote next year on how we feel about abortion or gay marriage, but the 2012 election--if screened through the prism of who can best protect us against a blood spattered budget--is as big as it gets. There are thousands of direct federal jobs here as well as thousands of jobs from federal contracts.

Senator Bingaman and all the seniority he brings to the table has only a year and a half left to use his muscle to secure funding for the national defense and security establishment here.

After that, we will be in the hands of one of the least powerful congressional delegations we've had since the late 70's. But back then there was a Cold War and hardly any debate over the national debt. Winning funding then was like skiing downhill. But in 2013 two freshmen US Senators and an ABQ freshman congressman will face a harsher atmosphere.

There is so much confusion now. New Mexicans want responsible federal spending, but they don't want their economy devastated by massive federal cuts or their personal security jeopardized by slashes to Social Security and Medicare.

We've got a pretty good crop of US Senate candidates to choose from on both sides of the aisle. We're going to be all ears when they talk about reconciling these disparate views.


Staffers for outgoing Dem Senator Bingaman are now making their plans for the future. Jeff's chief of staff-- Stephen Ward--is among them. He came with this email to friends and colleagues:

I have left Jeff and the Senate after seven and a half wonderful years...I have joined the small firm VH Strategies in DC and hope to build a practice helping clean tech and others with their business before the government. I can be reached via my new business email: stephenward@vhstrategies.com...Trudy Vincent, Jeff's great long-time legislative director, has agreed to take over as chief of staff, and Sunalei Stewart, our great staff counsel, has agreed to take over Trudy's L.D. position....I am grateful for your support...

And before long it will be the Senator with a similar message as he prepares to retire at the end of 2012.


During the 2010 campaign we blogged with curiosity about the heritage of Susana Martinez who would go on to become the nation's first female Hispanic Governor. We put most of it together but never did confirm that Martinez, who has made issues surrounding illegal immigrants a big deal, comes from a family that entered the USA illegally. That news comes from a background piece from Sandra Baltazar Martinez in the New Mexican. She reveals that Martinez's grandparents on her father's side were illegal immigrants when they settled in Texas from Mexico in the 1930's:

A 1930 U.S. Census Bureau record lists Martinez's paternal grandparents, Adolfo and Francisca Martinez, and shows their citizenship status as "AL" for "alien," the census-form indication for "all foreign-born persons neither naturalized nor having first papers."

Both sets of grandparents were Mexican immigrants. Her father's parents disappeared from his life early on, so he was raised by aunts. At the age of 5, he became a shoe shiner and slowly moved up to becoming a renowned El Paso boxing coach, a police officer and then a security business owner.

Why that took so long to come out is interesting. We didn't get any definitive answers when we raised the question year. But Martinez has been mentioned as a possible GOP vice-presidential pick in 2012. Her background--all of it--is becoming of increased interest.

So how does having illegal immigrants as part of her family tree inform Martinez's opinions on immigrant maters? You might say there's a big disconnect.


The City Council voted last night to have a city investigator consider an independent probe of the Darren White debacle. The city's inspector general will take a look and decide how to proceed. If he goes forward, he has subpoena power to get at the truth. The report from the city's independent review officer released Friday raised another round of questions. The council sees public confidence in public safety as shaken.

Hours before the council vote White went on KKOB-AM radio where he again maintained he had done nothing wrong. He did reveal that his relationship with Mayor Berry has been "strained" since he was forced to resign last month. White's actions at the scene of an auto accident involving his wife are at the center of the ongoing controversy.


Midnight drama at the City Council meeting last night as GOP Councilor and congressional candidate Dan Lewis bolted from GOP Mayor RJ Berry and joined the four council Democrats to request that the Department of Justice investigate the outbreak of police shootings the city has endured.

The 5 to 4 vote came despite entreaties by Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry that such an investigation was unnecessary, that the shootings have subsided. But Lewis cited a lack of confidence in the department because of the many fatalities and said the city should welcome a federal review.

Berry could veto the bill and the council would need six votes to override, but a council majority asking for a DOJ probe could prompt the feds to come in---regardless of Berry's wishes.

That positions Lewis more in the center of the political spectrum--at least on this issue. It has major ramifications for Berry who has relied on the five R's on the council to carry the day. And it could help Lewis broaden his appeal as he seeks to take the congressional seat back from the Dems.


Some proposals don't need a lot of debate:

The number of suicides at the Taos Gorge Bridge are up this year. This month two people have jumped to their deaths and now one state senator says it's time to rethink suicide barriers. Friday afternoon, state police were seen on the bridge scanning below for anyone who may have jumped. Four suicides have been reported at the bridge since January. State Senator Carlos Cisneros (D-Taos) said he plans to introduce legislation next session to take another look at putting up suicide barriers.


Reader Stephanie DuBois, a Democrat, weighs in on that LA Times article looking at Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran and her controversial crusade to "clean up" the state's voter rolls:

Joe, In the LA Times article Duran said there were 42 other states doing the same thing she is doing--"cleaning up" the voter rolls. How many of those states have Republican Secretaries of State and how many of them turned their records over to the state police for voter roll cleaning? And how many of them claimed executive privilege when not making the public documents available to the public? And how many of them blacked out everything on the public documents. Just asking...


The job can pay north of $150,000 so it's no shocker that there are 57 applicants for the position of Bernalillo County Manager.


Almost half of Albuquerque residents who are 15 or older are married, according to an On Numbers breakdown of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.

Here's the breakdown for the Duke City: 47.21 percent are married;14.46 percent are divorced or separated; 5.47 percent are widowed; 32.87 have never been married...


From the email:

The New Mexico Association of Counties (NMAC) is pleased to announce Taos County Commissioner Andrew Chavez as its newly elected President. Chavez has been a public servant throughout his professional life. He spent seventeen years in state government in multiple departments, including Personnel, DFA, and as a Natural Resources Trustee. He has spent six and a half years in county government...

Reader Deborah Martinez writes about our blogging of how Gov. Martinez has left vacant a high number of political jobs in Santa Fe:

I just have to respond to your statement that Martinez is doing more with less--pulease! She's simply having departments contract out the services previously done for less money with full-time employees. At least one department--Information Technology--doesn't even have a full-time general counsel. Instead, there's a contractor, who you know is making much more per hour than the full-time employee was. This love fest with Susana is sickening!

That's one example of a contract being used instead of filling the political position. We'll see if many more surface, but on the surface it seems as if Susana has indeed held back the overall spending on political positions, even when you include contracts...

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