Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New Mexico Voters Aren't Pointing Fingers Over State's Deep Problems; So Says One Insider Poll, And: Senator Smith Says Spending Advocates Like "Children," Also: More On The Downs Dealing 

New Mexicans have not given up on their state, but they accept the economic and social decline and don't point fingers at the current crop of politicians.

That was the sobering finding of a poll recently conducted for a Democratic politico who reports--get this--that 59% of the voters polled think New Mexico is headed in "the right direction."

That number is probably skewed some because voters are a bit more conservative than the population at large, but still it reflects an acceptance--or acquiescence--to New Mexico's bottom of the barrel rankings in just about every conceivable social and economic standing.

"When it comes to the jobs problem, people told us it is a problem everywhere. When it comes to the state's dismal rankings on education, poverty and such, they seem to accept it as 'the way it has always been..." reports our politico.

But people also vote with their feet. The state's population growth has shriveled in recent years, as the recession bit deeply, according to the US Census.

Anecdotal evidence continues to suggest that the electorate has not been stirred enough to wage a vigorous 21st century attack against the low living standards that afflict such a large swath of the citizenry here.

With so many believing that today's problems are beyond the government's reach, it is going to take a passionate campaign by statesmen--not run-of-the-mill politicians--to stir the populace to action.


Sen. Smith
You don't turn 49th and 50th rankings into 39th overnight and not without significant investment, but the fiscal hawks of Santa Fe are not about to loosen the purse strings.

State Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith debated Allen Sanchez, president and CEO of St. Joseph Community Health, on KNME-TV recently about the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow funds from the state's $11.5 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to be directed to very early childhood programs. The idea being that the state faces a systemic and generational crisis when it comes to poverty, education, crime and all the rest.

But Smith remains locked down on sending the amendment to the voters for their consideration. It passed the House, but Smith refused to have a hearing on it in the last session. Now he is likening to children those who support the amendment. He told the TV audience:

When it comes to spending money, if I turn to my kids and my children they want me to spend more money. The Legislative Finance Committee and Senate Finance Committee has to do what is fiscally responsible.

Smith refused to give the amendment a hearing in his powerful finance committee, saying it did not have the votes to pass. But is that an acceptable reason for no debate? Why not let committee members vote it down in public?

Smith, leader of the Martinez Democrats, and other austerity hawks remain convinced that New Mexico's deepening social conditions crisis can be solved without investment. He added:

There's a perception out there that more money fixes everything...and I am not of the school that subscribes to that...

Yes, there is a perception that spending money effectively solves problems. Because it does. Simple history demonstrates that irrevocably. But Smith is Santa Fe's Big Daddy to his legislative children. Like the population at large, they appear intimidated by the sheer immensity of he problems here. Better to let Big Daddy wield the paddle, while others look away.


We recently noted that Dem Attorney General Gary King and Dem State Auditor Hector Balderas have been pretty tame when it comes to the hyper-controversy over the awarding of the racino lease to the ABQ Downs--a lease that a number of public sources now say is under investigation by federal authorities. ABQ Dem state Senator Tim Keller whose district includes the racino on the state fairgrounds in the middle of ABQ and who is now running for the Dem nod for state auditor, says he has not been laid back:

Joe, you may be referring to statewide Democrats on the ABQ Downs when it comes to a response, but my district and I have long been very outspoken on this. For example, from this Santa Fe Reporter article:

Sen. Tim Keller has pushed unsuccessfully to add oversight to the State Fair and make its commission more independent from the governor’s office. But he says that proposal “frankly has been blocked by the fourth floor”—a reference to the governor’s office in the capitol building.“This shows that there’s a problem with sort of walking the walk and talking the talk when it comes to all the campaign rhetoric that came out of the Martinez administration,” Keller says.


Anissa Ford, the former campaign staffer for Governor Martinez, saw her name burst into the headlines. when her attorney declared that she had been interviewed about the ABQ Downs deal. One of the GOP Alligators has some Ford background for us:

A little background on Anissa "Galassini" Ford. Her mom, Rocky Galassini, is chairwoman of the Republican Party of Otero County. Her dad is Gene Galassini, a very popular Republican Magistrate judge in Otero County. Anissa was not just any staffer. She was basically Susana's personal assistant throughout the campaign.


Former state Senator Tim Eichenberg joins the race for the Dem nod for state Treasurer in 2014. He will face former Bernalillo County Treasurer Pat Padilla who is actively campaigning. Another possible contender is attorney and former NM Dem Party Chairman John Wertheim. Eichenberg was Bernalillo County Treasurer back in the 70's. He served one term in the Senate, ending in 2012. 


It was the biggest Ponzi scheme in NM history and at its center was Doug Vaughan, the ABQ real estate kingpin now behind bars. The story is quite fascinating and was the subject of  a recent episode of "American Greed" on CNBC TV. NM FBI agent Daniel Tanaka gets a good chunk of the interview time and his account is gripping. But is anyone more compelling than veteran actor and "America Greed" narrator Stacy Keach? He is truly "the voice of doom" slowly closing in on the culprits of the hour.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign