Friday, August 12, 2011

Wrapping The Week With Jerome Block, Jr., Darren White, The County Manager Finalists And Others In The Starring Cast Of La Politica 

This "rain gauge" sent in by a reader sums up New Mexico's drought conditions pretty well. The summer Monsoon season has been a bust and rain totals for the year remain far below normal.

As for the political news, the cup around here always runneth over. Here we go...

The Jerome Block, Jr. nightmare should be over soon. The universal opinion is that Jerome will resign from the Public Regulation Commission by the end of the month, sparing us impeachment proceedings in the state House during the upcoming September special session.

PRC member and Dem Jason Marks wants the Guv to appoint a middle of the road commissioner to replace Jerome when he finally does head toward the exits. He says if a conservative Republican gets named they might immediately join with the other two R commissioners and try to repeal stuff like how much renewable energy utilities are required to produce. He says Block's northern district is not conservative, even if Block often does vote with the R's.

But it's the Guv's call and having a more conservative commission for a year before Block's northern seat goes up for election just might be to her liking. Don't you think?

Maybe the creative mind of Santa Fe's Jim Terr will come with an update of this well-received "Rock Around The Block" video that we posted here a few years ago. (Yes, Jerome's problems go back a long way.)


How about those finalists for the plum job of Bernalillo County Manager? Here they are:

Ed Adams, Albuquerqe; Deanna Archuleta, Arlington, James B. Bitzer, Albuquerque; Melinda Carlton, N. Myrtle Beach, S.C, Bruce Perlman, Albuquerque, Oscar Rodriguez, Riverdale Park, Md; Tom Zdunek, Albuquerque.

Zdunek is the current interim manager. Adams and Perlman are former ABQ chief administrative officers and Deanna Archuleta used to hold the county commission seat now held by Dem Maggie Hart Stebbins.

Will the three Dems on the five member panel stick together to pick the new manager who will be paid close to $160,000? If not, one of the Dems could join with the two R's and make the pick.

White & Blanchard
Our Thursday blog had the Alligators reporting former ABQ Public Safety Director Darren White had landed some kind of gig over at Expo NM. The specifics are now in with the press reporting that Darren is consulting the Downs at ABQ which is located on the Expo fairgrounds.

He will consult the Downs as it prepares a request for proposals to provide security at the track. The Dem Party immediately came with the hit, accusing the Governor of playing a role in Darren's new deal and calling it old fashioned political patronage:

Darren’s buddy is steering sizeable government contracts his way with a security consulting contract at Expo NM. Once again, Martinez’s actions don’t measure up to her words, and New Mexicans are left holding the bag. Despite her crusade against cronyism and corruption in her campaign for Governor, in her short time in office Martinez has perfected the fine art of political patronage. The biggest beneficiary of Martinez’s kindness has to be Darren White, who has been relying on political favors for jobs since he was first appointed by Gary Johnson.

But State R's say the Dems got their facts wrong, pointing out that the party erred in stating exactly who Darren had a contract with:

...The Democrats falsely claimed Governor Martinez's administration awarded Darren White a contract to do security at Expo-NM (State Fair) and that the Governor is "steering sizeable government contracts to White."

Fact check: Darren White does not have a contract with Expo NM, nor does Darren White have any contract with the state of New Mexico.

"Governor Martinez is focused on turning New Mexico around by tackling real issues and that's why New Mexicans are standing solidly behind her....

In their release, the New Mexico Republican Party also attacked unnamed bloggers who "wake up every morning to push rumor-based narratives to advance a bitter, personal agenda."

Since we tend to do our blog at night, we know they can't be talking about us. Right? And how could we be bitter when we're having so much fun? Well, we love you no matter what, Monty. (You too, Jay).

Now back to the action...

No word on how much Darren's contract is for. It's interesting to note that the Downs at ABQ owner is Paul Blanchard, a major friend of Dem Guv Big Bill who gave the ex-Guv thousands in campaign dollars and palled around with him. Blanchard also served as Big Bill's appointee to the State Board of Finance from 2003-2006. He was later named to the State Investment Council where he served from January 2007 until April 2008.

Now the R's are in charge and Paul's munificence is being showered upon Darren, whose close friend Dan Mourning was named interim Expo NM chair by Governor Susana. Expo NM decides who gets the racetrack/casino lease.

But none of this, of course, is connected or has any politics involved. It's all just the "bitter" musings of an unnamed blogger. Who the heck is that guy, anyway?


Reader Mark Rosenblum writes:

I find the set of pictures of the Democratic Senatorial primary candidates at the top of your Thursday column disturbing. There is a formal portrait of Heinrich taken at some distance and quite dim and a close up of Balderas which is much brighter...Am I noticing a purposeful visual effect? If not, please correct.

Nothing purposeful, Mark. Those happened to be the formal portrait shots we had available. But we do appreciate a fellow conspiratorial mind. Hey, maybe Martin darkened that photo to appeal to Hispanic voters and Balderas lightened his up for Gringo appeal.

Okay, now we're really looking for trouble...


Reader Loyola Chastain says UNM President David Schmidly has left a math question in the wake of his message about UNM vice-presidents that we carried on Thursday's blog:

I thought I was pretty good at math, but Schmidly's claim that they have reduced the number of VPs and overall salaries just doesn't make any sense. If one divides the 2008 salary budget of $4.3 million by 16, the average salary was $268,750. And he is so proud to tell us that the number has been reduced to 12 with an overall salary budget of $3.4 mil. Average that out and they are making $283,333 each. I thought salaries were frozen at UNM...

And an anonymous reader came with this:

Those 16 UNM VP’s average salaries were $269K in 2008, and for the 12 were $283K in 2009. UNM VP David Harris’ salary, at last count, was around $435K! By the way, student tuition for the Fall Semester increased an average of 6% per year from 2003 to 2011 compared to the CPI average of 2.6%. No wonder students and parents are mad as hell!

But reader Mitch Jones says Schmidly has it right:

If the 4 VP slots that were eliminated were at the lower end of the totem poll, which the $900,000 reduction in salary for 4 positions suggests (that's some $225,000 per position which is below the average for 2008), then it's certainly possible that the "new" average would be higher. The people left in place had, it appears, higher salaries to begin with, those higher salaries now account for an even larger percentage of the total of the VP salary budget, thus the average increases, but that does not mean that the salaries changed at all. It's basic math, and the problem isn't David Schmidly's, it's your readers'.


Lots of back and forth here recently over the web site of SoulRio Church. Dan Lewis, the pastor of SoulRio, as well as a city councilor and a GOP candidate for the ABQ congressional seat, reports:

The site is back up and has the same exact content as it has been for years. In fact, you've linked to it before over the last few years. Nothing has changed. By they way, I've never downplayed my faith or my church, and I've also never used it politically for some kind of advantage....

Thanks, Dan. He is being opposed for the GOP nod by former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones.


From the city of ABQ:

...It's a small, weathered California Mission-style building lodged between the Alvarado Transportation Center and the Amtrak/Greyhound depot...This is one of the last surviving buildings from the grand old Alvarado Hotel that once graced the area. And it’s about to become relevant again...

Once known as the Alvarado Hotel’s Indian Curio Store the building at 214 1st St. SW is being renovated as offices for Amtrak...Craftspeople are reapplying the exterior’s famous pebble-dash stucco, which once covered the old Alvarado Hotel...

“This project allows Albuquerque to preserve a piece of its history, both from an architectural and cultural standpoint,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “It’s also gratifying anytime we can take an historic, but dilapidated, older property and redevelop it for new use...

That's a start, Mayor. Now about all those vacant lots dotting Central Avenue since the city tore down all the old motels...

That's all for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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