Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Downs Deal: Franco Was "Privately Hosted" On Louisiana Trip While Downs Lease Was Being Negotiated, But Guv Refuses To Name Hosts, Plus: Readers Blog On EmailGate And Hit A New Angle, Plus: Dem Treasurer Race Update, And: In Defense Of Santa Fe Service 

Welcome aboard. Here's some Thursday blogging...

About that strange 2011 Louisiana hunting trip taken by First Gentleman Chuck Franco. After getting pressure from here and elsewhere for the release of more information, the Governor now says that Franco and his two state police security officers were "privately hosted" so there are no more expense records for the state policemen to be released--other than gas records that were released earlier. The news:

Franco and the officers assigned to guard him were “privately hosted, and security stayed where the first gentleman stayed and meals were included. It was a personal hunting trip and the hosts have no business with state government, nor are they involved in state politics.” However, (the) spokesman refused to identify the Louisiana hosts, saying, “It was a personal trip that had nothing to do with state business or state politics … ”

And what about any contact during the trip with owners of the ABQ Downs who live in Louisiana and were negotiating a controversial 25 year racino lease at the time?

Franco’s Louisiana hosts aren’t associated with the Downs of Albuquerque racetrack nor a hotel company owned by John Turner, one of the Downs owners. Turner and another one of the three principals of the Downs, William Windham, live in Louisiana. Franco’s trip took place while the Downs was bidding on a 25-year contract. The company was awarded the contract later in 2011.

So who are the "private hosts" who put up Franco and his two taxpayer paid state police guards? How many? One host? Two? Three? A lot of geography was covered during that trek.

If Franco wanted a "personal" trip why did he agree to take two state policemen with him? He's not an elected official.

Were Franco's "private" hosts friends of the Downs owners?  Business associates? Was the hunting party "hosted" by any Louisiana or Mississippi gambling interests apart from the Downs owners?

Fair questions given the frenzy over the Downs deal, don't you think?

The stonewalling by the administration on releasing the records from this trip only creates more mystery and intrigue over the alleged bid-rigging in the Downs deal. What happened to Governor Martinez's promise of transparency? Do we have to have the FBI question Franco and the two officers to make sure there is no connection between his trip and that racino lease? Well, bring it on.

And where is the lawsuit from some media group or the NM Foundation for Open Government to force the release of the records showing where the hunting party stayed? Martinez officials are saying the Texas courts have ruled that such records can stay secret. Hey, when did we start living under Texas law? What about our laws and our courts. What do they have to say?

If this were Big Bill hiding records, a posse would be forming to take him in. And rightfully so. What's with the double-standard when it comes to holding this Fourth Floor accountable? We're just asking...


Emailgate is drawing intense reader interest, so much so that they're doing some of their own blogging. Here's a new angle from a Senior Alligator (of a Dem persuasion) who is closely following this topsy-turvy tale of political intrigue and back stabbing:

An interesting aspect of emailgate is the amazing lack of loyalty by so many of Gov. Martinez’s former confidants and employees. We have learned about Jamie Estrada, a former campaign manager, Andrea Goff a former campaign finance director, and Anissa Ford, a former personal assistant. All of them felt betrayed enough by Martinez that they allegedly turned the political tables on her, or talked to the FBI about potentially illegal activity.

Add these former Martinez confidants to the growing list of “disgruntled” former employees and appointees. They include Republican businessman Tom Tinnin, a  Martinez appointee to the state Board of Finance who resigned rather than go along with alleged bid-rigging with the ABQ Downs racino deal;  Rick May, a former Martinez finance secretary who alleges he was cut out of budget decisions; and Lupe Martinez, a former corrections secretary who alleges she was thrown under the bus by the governor for political reasons.

Just two and a half years into her first term, two-thirds of the Governor’s Office staff has left and many of her Cabinet Secretaries are also gone. Both the Governor and her shadow governor should be most concerned about who else among this exodus is “disgruntled” enough to pile on and reveal secrets that the administration has struggled to hide.

Two disgruntled former campaign staffers (Estrada and Andrea Goff) are possibly a coincidence. But three disgruntled campaign staffers (Estrada, Goff, and Anissa Ford) should be raising eyebrows and publicly redirecting the focus to the source: Susana Martinez.

And another reader writes in a similar vein:

How many more might there be? These folks were part of her team back then, and whether she or her political consultant Jay McCleskey brought them in, doesn't that say something about her faulty judgement of character?  She herself claims Estrada as having a "suspect character" yet he was selected to be part of her team.   In any workplace environment, the manager is responsible for his/her employees. A competent, fair, and likable manager doesn't usually have many disgruntled employees coming out of the woodwork..


The latest on the Dem race for state Treasurer. Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima toyed with the idea of seeking the Dem nod next year, but has opted out and is instead eying a run for a southern NM seat on the Public Regulation Commission....Former ABQ state Senator Tim Eichenberg is coming into the contest, joining former Bernalillo County Treasurer Pat Padilla...Former Dem Chairman Wertheim is considering, but not thought to be likely. That could mean a two way face-off for the nomination between Eichenberg and Padilla. The R's continue to talk about state tax and revenue secretary Demesia Padilla as their contender.


Blogging NM (joemonahan.com)
Widespread lousy service in the state's hospitality industry is recognized as a hindrance in attracting tourists, but reader Richard Randals riff on sub par service in Santa Fe drew this rebuke from reader Matt Baca:

During the first six months of this year I have eaten at many Santa Fe establishments, including Raga, Tia Sofias, Pranzos, the Indian Palace, the Guadalupe Café, La Fonda, the Bull Ring, El Palanque and Furrs Cafeteria (Furrs being a favorite of the locals). I have never found the workers to be impolite, and in fact, as a whole, find them to be some of the nicest people I've had the pleasure to encounter in my dining experience. I am not sure what Mr. Randals means by wait staff using correct verbiage, but if he is referring to The King's English, then I must remind him that part of the lure of Santa Fe is an Hispano/Native American community that, until recently, was largely isolated from the rest of a country dominated by the customs and languages of the Eastern seaboard.

And reader and ABQ attorney Jeff Baker can be counted on for this insights whenever this subject comes along:

Good service is not rocket science. It results from an owner’s high expectations of himself and his staff. Recently, my daughter was married at La Posada. The attitude and conduct of the staff were outstanding. Most of the guests were from the southeast U.S. – Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. They left raving about Santa Fe’s charm and beauty, and said they are coming back. If La Posada’s employees had been rude and indifferent, no amount of beauty and charm would entice these folks to return. Perhaps the NM Restaurant Association and the NM Hotel Association should offer classes in customer service – it’s all about attitude and expectations. It ain’t rocket science.

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