Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Guv's Image: Soft Side Emphasized As Sister Is Featured Before TV Cameras, Plus: Bregman To Subpoena Susana, Gary King Chatter, The Always Busy Econ Beat And A Chicharrone Fast 

A gubernatorial image just doesn't happen, it's crafted. That's why we found the following interesting. For two years we've heard of but rarely (if ever) seen Governor Martinez's developmentally disabled sister. Only now have the Guv's handlers decided to bring her into the Guv's public life by allowing a TV news crew to film a birthday party held for the 55 year old.

Lettie lives in Las Cruces as does Martinez's father, Jake, who suffers from Alzheimer's. The Governor is said to spend considerable time in Las Cruces visiting her sister who has a full-time caregiver.

In the KOB-TV news report, Martinez is seen for the first time interacting with her sister and says she is the reason she could never accept the VP nomination on the GOP prez ticket because moving her sister away from here is not an option (not that Martinez has ever been very high on the VP prospect list).

Martinez's handlers have been adept at presenting the Governor as warm and affable, surrounding her with school children and other circumstances that result in photographs that humanize the chief executive. But this is the first time--to our knowledge--that her sister has been presented in the television medium.

Martinez is known behind the scenes as stern and tough, every inch the former district attorney she once was. Recently disclosed insider emails give us a glimpse at that side of Martinez, but on television the public only gets occasional glimpses of that side of the Governor. It's a reason her popularity ratings remain high. (A new PPP poll coming out today is expected to show Martinez with a solid approval rating).

A similar situation exists here in ABQ, where our top sources report that GOP Mayor Richard Berry often displays a stern--even autocratic personality--in closed door meetings. As with Martinez, that side rarely surfaces on television news.

The TV images of Martinez and Berry clash mightily with the image that is being drawn of them in recent printed news and blog reports of the respective scandals they are grappling with--emailgate and the police department management mess. That's why it is interesting that we are now seeing a portion of the Governor's private life that had previously been walled off from the news cameras.

Move over Gary and Hector, Sam wants a piece of the action. Sam Bregman, trial attorney and possible '14 Dem Guv contender, again bursts into the emailgate headlines. The latest:

The attorney representing a fired state corrections department employee plans to subpoena Governor Martinez to testify at Larry Flynn's wrongful termination hearing. Sam Bregman said he learned  that Martinez's Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi used a personal Yahoo e-mail account to forward a secret New Mexico State Police background report on Flynn to the governor's personal campaign e-mail account.

The governor's staff said the report..was requested after they found out Flynn was living with then Correction Secretary Lupe Martinez on state prison grounds south of Santa Fe. Manning's report includes information about Flynn's car registrations, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and links to his social media accounts...Bregman said he does not think it is appropriate for the governor to target classified employees with secret investigations conducted by the state police. "It appears she's acting almost Nixonian," Bregman said. "Quite frankly getting state police to do an investigation on a classified employee using private emails to disseminate it, it's very scary."

Martinez Chief of Staff Gardner has already been ordered to testify in this case, after the Guv tried to prevent it with a claim of executive privilege.

The Governor told the newspaper:

The governor became adamant that she never got the emails when asked about the possibility of a subpoena because of them.“Those are emails that I never received,” she told reporters following a news conference. “These are emails that were intercepted by someone and the FBI is investigating. You cannot say that I accepted or received any email that has that address on it. … How can I comment on what Ryan sent me when in fact it was sent to an address that was hijacked?”

Bregman may be seeking political points but he raises an important question over the state's Governor ordering up a state police report on a classified state employee and then getting that report via private email. It's another question in a long line of them that Bregman, Attorney General King and Auditor Balderas are sure to find intriguing in the months ahead.


Writing in the New Mexican on the gubernatorial campaign of Democratic Attorney General Gary King:

...If Martinez’s approval numbers stay high through the next year or so, King’s chances of getting the Democratic nomination will increase--simply because other well-known Democrats will back away from the governor’s race. The last two times an incumbent ran--I’m talking about Bill Richardson and Gary Johnson--they were re-elected by big margins. So, someone like State Auditor Hector Balderas, who has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial contender, might decide that he’d have a much better chance going for attorney general and wait until 2018 to make his move for governor. But wait a minute, we haven’t even had time to get sick of the 2014 election, and here I am talking about 2018.

Keeping it in Santa Fe but moving it to the econ beat:

The median sales price for homes in the Santa Fe area--including the city and the county--dropped 6.8 percent between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012, according to a report from the Santa Fe Association of Realtors. The median sales price in the combined city and county for the second quarter of 2011 was $359,000 compared to $334,450 for the first quarter of 2012. Dan Wright, 2012 president of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, attributed that change to the steady decline in the market since the 2008-2009 peak. “We’re at the tail end of the decline in the market,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think it will continue to go down at this point.”

Maybe Wright is right and home prices have finally stopped their slide in Santa Fe, but layoffs at Los Alamos National Labs and the state workforce cast some doubt on his prediction. At a median price of $334,000 we have come down from the insane levels at the peak of the bubble, but even if Santa Fe has finally bottomed, it doesn't mean prices are going to go up anytime soon--only that they have ceased cratering.


So who is going to lead New Mexico out of its economic malaise? Veteran politico and radio talk show host Mike Santullo recently lamented the absence of leadership here and that drew this response from a Senior Alligator at the state capitol:

Mike Santullo is right--where are the business advocates? My profession requires me to attend Republican/Democrat candidate fundraisers and business events. I have not heard a candidate this year talk about unemployment, creating jobs or developing business. Instead, they enforce the importance of "fighting" not compromise. Likewise, I belong to both the ABQ SF Chambers of Commerce. They do not encourage or discuss business. They will, however, sell you a trip to Italy, China or South America.

Well, give Governor Susana some credit. Days after it was announced that a Guv-touted scientific "ghost town" planned for Hobbs doesn't seem to have a ghost of a chance of getting off the ground, she was back before the TV cameras touting the state's big tourism industry. She says visits here were up 5% in 2011. The catch is that visits have been crashing for several years, so we are bouncing off the bottom.

Still, any turn is good news. But how about the Guv finding some extra money to promote the state from that $250 million in unexpected energy royalty money that Santa Fe says is coming in, And maybe we can recut the TV ads the Tourism Department ordered up but hardly anyone seems to like?

And yes, Tom Clifford, Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration--a 13% state reserve is way too much. We need to invest some of that cash to get things moving. Keeping that reserve at 9% or so is just fine. Don't you think?


He's been taking hits for having sour grapes for not endorsing the woman who beat him, but now Eric Griego finally comes with his backing. He isn't exactly oozing with enthusiasm, but unsuccessful ABQ Dem congressional candidate Griego does endorse Michelle Lujan Grisham, the winner of the three way primary, nearly six weeks after the fact. In an email to supporters Griego said:

I ask that you join me in working hard to keep this seat in Democratic hands. President Obama, Congressman Heinrich, and Commissioner Lujan Grisham will need your help to make sure we can fight the Republican right and their draconian cuts and policies. 

Griego also came with this note for us:

Just sent this out to my whole list of 15,000+.  I took some time off and needed to recover from the tough primary before I was ready to jump back in. I know you and some of your readers were piling on in the interim. Hope this clears things up...

Thanks, Eric. We hope those Alligator bites cure quickly.


In honor of State Senate Majority Leader Michale Sanchez and his recovery from recent heart problems, we are swearing off the chicharrones at Barelas Coffee House....okay, at least for two weeks. Sanchez, 61, returned to work Monday after having a procedure to clear a blocked artery. He is a private attorney as well as majority leader. Friends are urging him to go slow for a while. Our decision to sacrifice the fatty and tasty morsels was prompted by a discussion of Sanchez's health we had at Barelas last week with Richard Anklam, executive director of the nonpartisan New Mexico Tax Research Institute. It was a thoughtful discussion. Anklam ordered a big bowl of chicharrones to fuel the conversation and we dipped them in red chile. Hey, we're trying....

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