Friday, December 07, 2012

Busy Weekend Ahead For State Politicos, Plus: R Vs. D In Reader Email, Also: The DOJ & APD; Our Continuing Coverage 

  • John Billingsley was elected chairman of the NM GOP Saturday afternoon in ABQ. Billingsley of Lincoln County beat ABQ engineer John Rockwell and ABQ's Lance Klafeta. The vote was Billingsley 245, Rockwell 103 and Klafeta 6. Billingsley campaigned against the tactics of Governor Martinez political consultant Jay McCleskey.

Most are gearing down for the week when Friday rolls around, but this time politicos on both sides of the aisle are gearing up. Saturday in ABQ the state's top Republicans gather to elect a new party chairman. Sunday in Belen state Senate Democrats conduct a crucial caucus to select their leadership for the legislative session that starts in January.

Lincoln County GOP Chairman John Billingsley has made a point of establishing himself as independent of the Governor's controversial political consultant. He and ABQ engineer John Rockwell is the other major contender.

Dem Senators are certain to again choose Senator Michael Sanchez as their majority leader. The question shadowing the Dem caucus is whether they can shuck the coalition of R's and conservative Dems that has controlled the powerful post of Senate President Pro Tem. The position is voted on by the entire Senate but if at least 22 of the 25 Senate Dems unite around one of their own, the coalition will be history.

We'll have updates for you here and via Twitter and Facebook.


The state's downtrodden construction industry awaits a boost from Santa Fe which says it has bonding capacity of $500 million for legislators to consider during the January legislative session. The news:

New Mexico saw a decline in construction jobs of 3 percent, the report said. The state went from 44,200 construction jobs in Oct. 2011 to 42,900 in Oct. 2012, a decline of 1,300. 

Well, not all construction workers are in a funk. One of them down in Hobbs just won $2 million in the lottery.

Much of the construction depression, of course, is due to the housing bust in the ABQ metro.

We also noted this week the state is carrying a surplus of 14 percent of revenues--way too high. The sky is falling crowd says we need that in case Washington goes over the "fiscal cliff."

Okay, so when we don't go over the cliff in January, we expect the Legislative Finance Committee and Department of Finance to agree with us that the surplus needs to be put to use to stimulate this moribund economy of ours. We won't hold our breath.


The central point on our Thursday blog stands--A mail-in election would boost the chances of a city charter amendment dealing with run-off elections. But we screwed up in our first draft by saying the mail-in would be more expensive to conduct than the traditional in-person election. A mail-in election would cost about $550,000. An in-person vote would cost in the area of $750,000. 

The City Council will decide how we vote in the election which is likely for early March now that enough petition signatures have been gathered. The amendment would force a candidate to get 50% of the vote--up from 40%--to avoid a run-off with the other top vote-getter. Passage of the amendment could make it more difficult for GOP Mayor Berry to retain office in 2013. It will be a surprise if the GOP-controlled council opts for a mail-in election.


Knell & Darnell (Mark Bralley)
And a couple of our Alligators knew something was up with Guv Martinez Communications Director Scott Darnell, but rather than leaving the Guv's office as they indicated, its been announced that Darnell will now be a deputy chief of staff, replacing Ryan Cangiolosi who took a plum $125,000 a year job at University of New Mexico Hospital. Enrique Knell, spokesman for Children Youth and Families, moves into the Darnell press job. We are assuming that Darnell's wife--Alexis Valdez Darnell--stays on as director of operations for the Guv's office. The same Gators predicted she would move along with hubby Scott.

We will administer the appropriate ten lashes with a wet noodle to the Alligators who got this one wrong and ten lashes to our own backside if we were set up and took the bait. As for Darnell, his word for us was "mum" when he was communications director so we were unable to confirm the original report. (Hey, we don't mean to scare these young fellas...).


The most imporant thing to note about the various staff changes that have been announced by Governor Martinez is this: Her political consultant Jay McCleskey retains a firm grip on the power of the Governor's office. All top positions are filled by his allies. 


From Las Cruces:

After three days of a painstaking vote-by-vote state-ordered recount, Doña Ana County election officials on Thursday declared Republican Terry McMillan the winner of a tightly contested state House race.McMillan, 56, a Las Cruces surgeon and the incumbent, won by an eight-vote margin out of more than 12,500 cast, beating out challenger Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces, according to official numbers.


Republican Toni Olmi filled space here this week arguing that it is the Legislature--long controlled by the Dems--that is the cause of the state's problems, but Dem Ellen Wedum says Toni needs to look at the Guv's office:

Republican Tony Olmi asks "What and where is the vision for New Mexico?" He believes the lack of innovation is due to lack of action by the Democratically controlled legislature. 

He is looking in the wrong place--he needs to check Governor Susana's veto wastebasket. 

Just compare Governor Richardson's first session with NM legislators in 2003 with the Martinez regime in 2011. In 2003, the Legislature passed about 523 bills that required action by the Governor: Richardson vetoed 84, or 16% of them.  In 2011, under the dampening influence of Governor Martinez, only 285 bills reached the governor's desk, and she vetoed 98, or 34% of them.

Among her 98 vetoes were: "In-State Business Procurement Advantage," sponsored by Tim M. Keller and Larry Larrañaga; SB 187," LFC Review of State Funding Receipents" sponsored by Tim M. Keller, and Paul Bandy; SB 314, "Autism Education Plan Development," sponsored by Clinton D. Harden...I just picked these four bills out of the 98 because they were passed unanimously, or with only one dissenting vote, by both Houses.


APD Chief Ray Schultz
Our readers continue to chew over the big announcement that the Department of Justice will investigate the ABQ police department because of the numerous police shootings--many of them fatal--that have afflicted the department since Mayor Berry took over city government in 2010. Among those readers is the intrepid retired APD Seargent Dan Klein:

The media are focused on the 25 shootings, but if you listened to the DOJ they believe the problems at APD are much deeper. APD Chief Schultz and Mayor Berry continue to say that they have implemented 95% of the PERF changes and that should make everyone happy.

(Mayor Berry hired the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), an  independent firm in Washington in September 2010 to investigate what APD could do differently. The report is here.)

What I think the DOJ realizes is many of these "changes" are on paper only...Want an example? The lapel cameras. Every officer is supposed to wear one and turn it on in arrest situations. Remember the state fair parade arrest? Schultz wore his, but never turned it on. His Deputy Chief didn't even have one on...This was one of those tense situations that demanded recording, but Schultz's spokesman said Schultz didn't turn it on because it was so tense he didn't have time. They never addressed why the Deputy chief wasn't wearing his. Do as I say not as I do.  

This type of leadership trickles down, yet some media (newspaper and radio) applauded Schultz for arresting the drunk driver, completely ignoring the the fact that Schultz violated his own policies in doing so.

This is a great example of the culture at APD command staff. Implement rules that you think will get the DOJ off your back, but in practice you don't have to follow them. So next time you hear Berry and Schultz talk about implementing 95% of the PERF recommendations ask yourself if that is just on paper? Because in practice they aren't implementing anything but CYA.

We welcome comments from the police chief, mayor and/or their supporters. We have previously blogged and linked to statements by the Mayor in regard to APD.


Lawmakers are starting to make plans to meet with their neighbors in preparing for the 60 day legislative session that begins January 15. ABQ Dem Senator-elect Michael Padilla is among them. He'll conduct a legislative town hall meeting Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m at Adobe Acres Elementary--1724 Camino Del Valle SW...

In a first draft this week we said one of the candidates for state House Majority Leader was Miguel Gomez. We corrected that to read State Rep. Miguel Garcia. Gomez is a former ABQ councilor...

From Jay Leno:

"And today in Washington, President Obama met with leaders of the American Indian tribes. And they honored the President by giving him his own Indian name – running deficit." 

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Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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