Thursday, August 04, 2011

Guv's New Nickname: "Softie Susana?" Not. And: ABQ's Public Safety Crisis; Our Continuing Coverage 

"Softie Susana?"
Political reporter Steve Terrell wonders how the national press can do a long piece on the "softer touch" of Governor Martinez and not once mention that one of Martinez's premier public issues has been repealing driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. That debate has been nasty, divisive and anything but "soft." There was also no mention of the round-up of 10,000 randomly selected immigrants to prove that they still live in the state.

That's pretty good work by Susana's spin machine on two veteran national reporters.

Martinez is polling at 52% approval. Not bad in comparison to other GOP Governors who have gone overboard with hard-right rhetoric and programs. But Martinez preserved her polling honeymoon because of what she did not do, not because of what she has done.

This paragraph of praise from reporters Ben Smith and Byron Tau just plain befuddles:

...Soon after her election, she made a point of building relationships with the Democrats who controlled the Legislature in a series of private meetings and outreach sessions...Martinez won her crucial legislative fight, a budget with no new taxes.

What Democrats were those? Surely not the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate President Pro Tem, the House Speaker or the House Majority Leader who barely know her and rarely meet with her. The last we looked they were among those who "controlled" the Legislature.

And as far as winning a "crucial legislative fight," well, it didn't happen. There was no fight. In fact, outside of the frenzy over driver's licenses which Martinez lost, the session was dismissed by political analysts on both sides of the aisle as one of the most uneventful in decades.

The Susana spin doctors may have the presiders of the Potomac in their pocket, but in the Alligator infested waters around here, you gotta play some hands to win. Bluffing doesn't count.


Nevada GOP Governor Brian Sandoval was also given a fuzzy bear hug in that same national write-up, but like here it was met with push back. With lines like this, no wonder:

Sandoval and Martinez have fought to keep their heads down and the ideological stakes low. In a nation clamoring for compromise and political civility, theirs is a model to watch.

A model to watch? Hello, Washington? Martinez activated her political arm only days after taking office to launch robocall attacks into the districts of legislators who fought her on illegal driver's licenses. She used it as a wedge issue because, as she never tires of saying, a poll shows 72% of the public in favor of the repeal. The attacks during a session were quite unprecedented and led not to compromise and civility but rancor and legislative failure.

Well, guess you had to be here. And that's why we do what we do.


Speaking of those driver's licenses for illegals, Susana was pounding it again in Clovis this week:

Martinez spent Wednesday in Clovis, meeting with leaders at Cannon Air Force Base and area communities and to address her push to change the state’s driver’s license law. The governor spoke to about 70 people in a press conference at the Clovis Civic Center about the issue.

“New Mexico has become a magnet for people seeking valid U.S. IDs and for people who traffic humans,” she said during the press conference.

Dems point out that Martinez could have advanced a bill in the last session of the Legislature that severely restricted the licenses and given her much of what else she wanted, but she wants the whole enchilada or nothing--a complete repeal and a complete political victory. She will try again in the special redistricting session that insiders expect to be called for Sept. 6. Will she prevail this time?

The Guv thinks the overwhelming public support for repeal will eventually wear out the Dems, but it could also wear out the public if the redistricting session degenerates into another divisive spectacle at a cost of $50,000 a day.

Why doesn't the Governor simply wait until the 30 day session of the Legislature in January and try again there? Is the matter really that urgent or are we trying to make political hay here? You don't need a Ph.D in poly sci to figure that one out...

So what about the other stuff Susana is planning on adding to the special session agenda? Can't all of it wait until January? We'd say yes--with one exception. The $150 million capital outlay bill that will kick-start construction jobs is needed now. Martinez will find bipartisan support for the measure which was delayed in the last session.

If Martinez stuck to redistricting and the capital outlay bill for the special session, it would spotlight that "softer touch" she was described as having, but this is a Governor who enjoys a good fight. That's what she liked as a district attorney and that's what she still likes. And that's what we're going to get come September. In other words, don't look for the nickname "Softie Susana" to pop up anytime soon.

Dan Lewis
Well, how about that? We put up a link Wednesday to the web site of ABQ's SoulRio Church--the one that congressional candidate Dan Lewis is pastor of--and a few hours after the blog hits the streets we noticed site is taken down. It was replaced with a note about the site "undergoing some changes and repairs."

Was there something on there that might have made Dan politically uncomfortable? We pointed out that his positions on creationism, abortion and gay rights could be problematic if he becomes the GOP nominee for the ABQ House seat.

No, according to Lewis. He says the site has had ongoing problems and was hacked. There was no conspiracy to hide anything and the site will be reposted with all of its original content. He sent us a stream of trouble-shooting emails to confirm that the problems arose before we posted the Wednesday blog on how some of the religious right were peeling away from ABQ Mayor Berry.


Mayor Berry appears to be positioning himself to veto a city council measure that calls for a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of the numerous fatal police shootings the city has suffered. He says APD should be given a chance to change and cites a study that suggested 58 recommendations for change. But the natives are restless and this reader email frames it well:

The mayor only seems focused on the 19 police shootings and DOJ request. What about the tens of millions of dollars Albuquerque residents have paid out in police related lawsuits since Ray Schultz became chief? To me that is the issue that needs to be addressed now. The city is broke and yet we have already paid out $5,000,000 just this year in police lawsuits.

The study the mayor had done only addresses some of the issues at APD. Many of the lawsuits have nothing to do with police shootings--they deal with violation of civil rights for knowingly arresting the wrong people and then leaving them in jail for months. They deal with bad searches. They deal with police officers suing Schultz for civil rights violations. What has the mayor done to address this? What can he do? Other than terminate Schultz and move APD forward with new leadership?

Fair questions. DOJ says it is reviewing whether to launch a full-scale investigation into APD. It could happen even if Berry vetoes the council measure and it is sustained.

As usual, we welcome any comments from the mayor or police chief. But we doubt we are going to get one. Berry is killing himself. Take a look:

KOB-TV requested for a response from Mayor Berry Wednesday concerning the DOJ's review into the shootings, but was told the mayor was booked with appointments and was unavailable for comment.

That reminds you of "stealth" Mayor Louis Saavedra back in the early 90's. The city aches for forceful leadership during this crisis. The god-awful political and media advice Berry is getting and following is breathtaking. Won't some elder-Republican statesman types help him out? Or can't they find the bunker?


A reader reporting here Wednesday on the death of Margaret Larragoite, 84, identified her as "secretary"of the state senate. She was the chief clerk....Sandoval County Commissioner Donnie Leonard, 66, has received a new liver and is recovering in a Phoenix hospital....And from the Roundhouse:

A bronze bust of former New Mexico Governor David Cargo will be unveiled at the State Capitol's Halls of History in a celebration in which both current Governor Susana Martinez and former Governor Cargo will speak. The unveiling ceremony, which commemorates the man who served as governor of New Mexico from 1967 through 1970, takes place on Thursday, August 18, at 11:00
a.m. at the State Capitol. Paula Tackett, former Legislative Council Service director, will serve as mistress of ceremonies.

Knowing Dave, he will try to whisper policy advice in Susana's ear. She could do worse.

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