Friday, August 17, 2012

From Cruces To Santa Fe, Your Blog Was On The Move This Week, Plus: Readers Continue Memories Of "Little Joe"  

Solimon & King
Our travels this week around the Land of Enchantment ended on the Old Santa Fe Trail at the gala dinner and auction for the Institute of American Indian Arts--the prelude to this week's internationally popular Santa Fe Indian Market.

Wherever we go, politics follows and so it was the case at the Thursday night celebration at the La Fonda. Here's Dem Attorney General Gary King enjoying the evening with Ron Solimon, director of ABQ's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

In case you took the summer off and haven't heard, Gary became the first announced Dem Guv candidate for 2014 a couple of weeks ago. He tells us he is already fund-raising and will do some selective campaigning for legislative candidates this fall, including Christine Trujillo, the Dem state House candidate who is seeking an ABQ seat. She is a longtime union executive and unions are going to play a role in deciding the 2014 nominee.

King, not known for being a spendthrift, got into the spirit of the evening, bidding (and winning) the auction for a splendid piece of Native American glassware. Now that ought to help get the state's economy moving.


A reader writes of our southern road trip:

I think it is a very good idea for you to get out into the field for facetime with the people who are grist for your mill. In the future, you should rotate around the state using Public Regulation Commission districts to guide your itinerary.

Good suggestion. And another:

As a reader, I like that you are taking a road trip. It sends the message that you are connected with the whole state and not just Abq./SF.

Let me know if and when you want to make to trip to NW NM (Gallup, Grants, Navajo Nation and Farmington).  I can help get you in touch with the cast of characters in all four venues. 

We'll be sure to take you up on that offer. Indeed, this is the home of New Mexico politics--not just ABQ and Santa Fe.


We recently took to task the Guv's staff for sending her off to Hobbs to announce a scientific "ghost town" that subsequently flopped (at least for now). But a spokesman for Pegasus, the company whose plan Susana was touting, says we were too harsh:

You are being too harsh on the Governor in regards to CITE, a project that is still very much alive in spite of the recent delay resulting from Pegasus Global Holdings’ decision to pull out of Lea County in favor of another New Mexico location...The company’s decision to leave the Hobbs area was based solely on land issues that unfortunately arose after Pegasus’ announcement that it intended to locate there. Governor Martinez graciously attended that announcement at the company’s invitation. She was there to support Pegasus as a private company that is committed to making a significant investment in the state and put thousands of New Mexicans to work, all without government funding or  incentives...To criticize the Governor for what was strictly a business decision made by a private company seems in this case unfair.

Finally, attempts to write off the project as dead are undue. Pegasus remains committed to bringing the CITE project to New Mexico and is actively scouting new potential locations. While healthy skepticism about the project is expected, it’s unfortunate that the cynicism that too often plagues our state is now overshadowing a project that has the potential to provide a major boost to our lagging economy. In these continued  tough economic times, private businesses looking to put people to work deserve our support and the opportunity to prove themselves more than ever. 

Fair enough, but where we come from you don't send the Governor out to the statewide media to announce a project that is not nailed down. As for the cynicism "that plagues our state," we see it more as healthy skepticism. We wish Pegasus luck in getting restarted and maybe the second time around the Guv won't get her feet all muddy.


Hoyt Clifton
Reaction in the political community continues to the death of longtime NM elections bureau director Hoyt Clifton. Matt Grubs of New Mexico PBS weighs in:

Sad to hear of Hoyt Clifton’s passing. I moved here from Florida on the heels of the 2000 election. I thought I knew a thing or two about hanging chads, butterfly ballots and missing ballot boxes. Hoyt gently explained to me that I did not – and proceeded to answer every question I threw at him over the next few years. Either he never lied to the press or he was really good at it.

Clifton, 82, died Tuesday in Lubbock after suffering a fall. He retired in '94 after 25 years at the secretary of state's office. We got the photo from Steve Terrell of the New Mexican whose obit is here.


We want to get a plug in before the week gets away from us for the newspaper's series on a subject we have blogged about often the past decade--the out of control drug addiction in the state. New Mexico journalism has strayed away from in-depth coverage of the state's social and cultural crisis but this series by investigative reporter Mike Gallagher brings it back.

Our state is in a state of perpetual crisis. Because it is chronic, it becomes the norm. But it isn't and this series on drugs points out just how abnormal and points to possible solutions.

When we were in Washington in February we brought the subject up when visiting with northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. His district is especially hard hit by drug deaths. He has held hearings on the matter since and pledges continued attention.

We can talk about taxes, regulations and stimulus until we are blue in the face, but if New Mexico's human "capital" is not attractive, we are going nowhere economically. Cleaning up the drug scourge is imperative if we are to climb out of the third world.


On Monday we came with memories of our coverage of the 1976 campaign when Dem US Senator Joe "Little Joe" Montoya was defeated for re-election by astronaut and Republican Jack Schmitt. It drew an array of email. Olivia Nevarez-Garcia, retired magistrate and probate judge from Dona Ana County, worked for Montoya and says she was disappointed when we reported that Dem US Senate candidate Martin Heinrich mentions other New Mexico Dem US Senators in his stump speech, but not Montoya:
I feel I need to comment on the fact that Congressman Heinrich did not mention Senator Montoya in his comments. I am very disappointed. I am from Las Cruces and worked for the Senator in D. C. In 1976, the year he was defeated.  Senator worked very hard for the people of New Mexico and was very devoted...I was doing his scheduling and know the long hours he spent working for New Mexico. It was a great disappointment to lose Senator Montoya. He gave many years of dedicated service to New Mexicans. He was followed by a one-term Senator (Jack Schmitt) and you know what happened when Governor Martinez put his name up for confirmation for a cabinet position. I hope that Congressman Heinrich reconsiders his remarks in the future.  Keep up the great work and enjoy all the political info.

Appreciate that email, Olivia. We're glad we are able to rekindle memories of the state's colorful past for you.


Montoya & Justice Lujan
And one more Little Joe note before we leave for the weekend. Here's a cool photo sent to us by the campaign of Dem ABQ congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham. It shows her grandfather--New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Eugene Lujan--administering the oath of office in Santa Fe Court to a youthful Joe Montoya as he becomes the state's lieutenant governor. He was only 31. From 1947 to 1957 Montoya, a native of Pena Blanca north of ABQ, was elected Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico three times.

The photo is from the State Records Center and Archives. We need to get up there soon and look for some more treasures from the never ending book of La Politica.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks to all the folks who helped us out during our blogging road trip.

Reporting to you this this week from Las Cruces, Silver City, Deming, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)
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