Monday, April 23, 2012

More On The Big Berry Story: Is Digging Heels In The Way Out? Plus: The Heather Watch; Can She Be State's Federal Guardian? And: Susana's Political Blunder? 

It's the big story that won't go away, the one that festers like an infected sore and could be the defining issue of next year's race for ABQ Mayor--the ongoing fatal police shootings. Mayor Berry is now trying to define the issue as one in which you are either patriotic and support the police department or a cop basher who just doesn't understand the need for all of these shootings.

The mayor's polling may show this is the political path to take, but we sense the issue is growing beyond those narrow confines and is slowly becoming a referendum on Berry's leadership--or lack thereof--as well as that of police chief Ray Schultz. Over the weekend the newspaper came with yet another lengthy angle on the story.

Berry was forced last year to dump controversial public safety director Darren White and it proved to be the right move politically as he put the matter behind him. But Berry is digging his heels in the dirt on letting go of Schultz and implementing a radical cultural change for a deeply troubled department that can't get its arms around the outbreak of shootings--justified or not.

The Mayor knows crime is an issue that motivates people and if he can keep the focus on that and continue to dismiss the police shootings as necessary, he will be politically protected. But it is not that simple. The police shootings are going to cost taxpayers here millions in lawsuit settlements--it's that bill--already coming due in some cases--that highlights Berry's vulnerability. Now you are into the voters' wallets.

It is interesting to watch Berry's intransigence because--as several Alligators here have opined--it reveals a part of his political personality that has heretofore gone unrecognized. That's because until now his has been a minimalist administration with a go along, get along agenda. Not doing much was seen as the safe play.

But there are bodies in the streets and big city settlement checks going out the door. The 11th Floor's opaque view is slowly being stripped away by harsh reality and the growing calls for leadership in a city that is once again starting to look at itself in the mirror.


The Journal comes with its primary profile of GOP US Senate contender Heather Wilson. She is at her best when she talks of the state's need to have its congressional delegation stand up on its hind legs and fight:

The labs’ defense missions--safeguarding the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile--should remain, she said. She said the Obama administration’s recent decision to shutter a multibillion-dollar plutonium project at LANL in favor of a different project at Oak Ridge, Tenn., was the current (mostly Democratic) delegation’s fault. “Why did that happen?” Wilson asked. “Because the Tennessee delegation stood up and fought for Oak Ridge and our delegation didn’t. It’s a mission they don’t believe in.”

We have an image of former GOP Senator Pete Domenici waking each working morning and probably asking himself, "How am I going to screw Tennessee today (or some other state)."

It isn't pretty but when it comes to safeguarding the federal investment here--across the board--it is screw or be screwed. Wilson gets it. 

But she is the underdog this year. The state tilts Dems and the interest groups are out in force. Reader Stephan Heinz writes:

Did this play out anywhere in our local paper?

Heather Wilson, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in New Mexico, joined the so-called pro-bullying chorus when she staked out her opposition to SB 555, the Student Non-Discrimination Act. The measure, introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), would provide LGBT students with similar civil rights protections against bullying “as those that currently apply to students based on race and gender.” Wilson argued that the bill would violate students’ free speech rights and criminalize “teasing."


Our ongoing "tell it like it is" coverage of the economic doldrums in New Mexico bring reader reflections, including this one from Tom Greer:

Another issue that no one is talking about as the unemployment numbers struggle lower is that people are taking jobs that pay less that the ones they lost. While there is the illusion that the numbers of unemployed might be creeping down so is the average income and the standard of living. Part time and under employed jobs are taking the upper middle class into the lower middle class. We need to illustrate this in our talking points. Our standard of living is threatened here and we may find if we ever get employment back to the 2007 numbers, everyone will now be poorer than before. First time in the history of this great country. Where does this lead us? 


Reader Mike Kitts reports from the Saturday convention of the state Democratic Central Committee in Taos:

Joni Marie Gutierrez of Las Cruces beat out Laura Harris for the position of New Mexico Democratic National Committeewoman.  Raymond Sanchez was chosen unanimously to repeat as the New Mexico Democratic National Committeeman.

Among the Resolutions discussed and voted upon:

--Fracking--Be it resolved that the practice of fracking be employed only with a full environmental impact study that is made by an independent agency

--Legalize Cannabis--Be it resolved that criminal penalties for the possession, use, and distribution of cannabis by and to adults should be eliminated.  (passed with large majority.) 

Legalize cannabis? Wonder how Democrats Martin Heinrich and Hector Balderas feel about that?

Scott Krahling, a Dona Ana County Commissioner and disgruntled member of the  Spaceport America board of directors had to know that his days were numbered when he came with an op-ed piece criticizing the Martinez administration over Spaceport funding. And indeed they were:

Krahling resigned this week from a Gov. Martinez-appointed post on Spaceport America, after Martinez left him off a list of officials who were confirmed earlier this week by a Senate panel. Martinez's office cited concerns over a "general lack of engagement in spaceport activity" as the reason for growing tension leading up to Krahling's resignation. Still, Krahling said he thought Martinez's office was "caught off guard" by a recent opinion column he submitted to Las Cruces newspapers that criticized the spaceport's plan for visitors facilities. 
Krahling's insistence on proper Spaceport funding won't be the last you hear from the southern part of the state where the potential economic impact of the project is immense.


Governor Martinez hasn't made too many political blunders but her direct involvement in a state Senate GOP Primary on the east side is looking more and more like one:

The trouble for the governor is that Angie Spears faces opposition from two other Republicans. They say they do not appreciate Martinez taking a side in a campaign where no Democrats are to be found. One of the GOP candidates, trucking company owner Mark Myers of Clovis, says he is running for the Senate for a simple reason: "I'm not a fan of the good ole boy system in Santa Fe."
When the small GOP starts cannibalizing itself, it is in trouble. Susana's favored candidate may win, but there is going to be a long-term political price. She does not have the intimidation factor of a Bill Richardson.

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