Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Susana's Transparency Problem; Campaign Pledge Put To Test, Plus: All Fogged Up; Open Gov't Group Faces Murky Outlook. And: Our Bottom Lines For A New Mexico Tuesday  

Coming into office Governor Martinez billed herself as the "transparency Governor." That was in the wake of corruption investigations and stonewalling by the previous administration.

None of us who have toiled for long in the field of La Politica were very surprised that she turns out to be like her predecessors--not so transparent when she can get away with it.

It's the nature of the beast. Politicians want to protect their power and secrecy enhances it. Two stories illustrate the problem.

The AP, weary of the stonewalling, is hitting harder at Susana's secrecy:

Information that Gov. Martinez has released in response to growing pressure for copies of her calendars is incomplete, inconsistent and contrary to what she has told media in the past, according to a review by The Associated Press. Martinez, who bills herself as the transparency governor, recently released a list of trips she made for political rather than state business during the three months leading up to last year's elections. The list was compiled in response to a request by the AP for copies of her calendars showing all state business and political appointments and travel for those months.

The list failed to mention at least one trip, an early August trip to Washington state....The list also is in conflict with other recently released information on Martinez's comings and goings. Martinez has declined to say why she won't release her actual calendars.

And then there's this kicker:

In addition to Martinez's refusal to release copies of her actual calendars, even after the fact, the Department of Public Safety has completely ignored a July request and several follow ups from the AP for the release of past schedules and calendars Martinez has sent to her security detail.

"Completely ignored" is the key phrase. The Martinez government seems to be betting that the media will fade away. The AP is sending a different message. The Carlsbad newspaper joined in with this editorial.

And then there's Democratic Attorney General Gary King who is running to replace Susana. His stiff arm to transparency is not as stiff as the Guv's but:

In another dust-up with a former female employee, Attorney General King has been ordered to pay nearly $47,000 in attorney fees and costs for failing to give her documents to which she was entitled under the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act. A district judge...found the AG’s Office failed to provide the woman with the documents, but said there was no evidence it intentionally withheld them...


There's more on the transparency front. After only a few months Terry Schleder is out as executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG). He did not go quietly, faulting Terri Cole, executive director of the ABQ Chamber of Commerce who is also chair of FOG's executive board. Schleder said on social media:

Terri Cole seemed to loathe (former FOG executive director Gywneth Doland) as much as she did me. (It's a) NM FOG badge of honor!!

Schleder was fired for "insubordination." Cole isn't commenting.

Doland also had a short-lived stint at FOG. All of this raises the question of whether the open government group of which the ABQ Journal was instrumental in founding should have as its leader the president of the state's leading business group. The argument being that Cole and the Chamber have to conduct sensitive negotiations with whomever holds power in Santa Fe. Those goals can easily conflict with the cause of open government.

So why not clear the fog at FOG and let  new blood take over?

The latest personnel upheaval at FOG is on top of the embarrassment last year of having to have GOP National Committeeman and lawyer/lobbyist Pat Rogers resign from the FOG board. It was revealed he was doing public business with the Martinez administration via private emails. Talk about the fox watching the chicken coop.

A disturbing aspect of this is how the Governor's operatives tried to demonize Schleder as a Democrat who was a foe of Martinez. Naturally, they want Rogers or someone similar back in the FOG mix.

If FOG is to retain credibility and relevancy, it may want to consider purging itself of the politicos, the politically connected and the political pit bulls. How about allowing real watchdogs patrol the place?

More on the FOG problems in this piece.


The R's have their first candidate on the field in their longshot effort to oust Dem US Senator Tom Udall next year.

33 year old assistant district attorney and Dona Ana County GOP Chairman David Clements, a self-described "libertarian Republican," throws his hat into the ring today. From his news release:

“With our government's refusal to live within its means, we have a 17 trillion dollar debt and are on the brink of economic ruin. And with Washington, D.C. unable to escape the reality of its continued failures, an all out assault on our economic and civil liberties has begun.”

Advancing free market policies that allow small businesses to create jobs, balancing the federal budget, and fighting to preserve the privacy rights of New Mexicans will be the focus of Clements’ candidacy.

Robert Aragon, Democrat turned Republican, is also expected to seek the GOP US Senate nomination. Former NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh is also a possible. Udall is seeking a second, six year term.


State Auditor Hector Balderas, seeking the '14 Dem nod for attorney general, says he is off to a strong fundraising start. He reports raising $218,000 in the latest reporting period. His first quarter out he pulled in $242,000 for a total of $460k.

Balderas is unopposed for the Dem AG nod, but the R's could make a serious play for the post if they nominated someone on the order of Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler. He ran four years ago but lost. Chandler has not signaled his '14 plans. The R's last won the AG's race in 1986.


From Socorro, reader Patrick Buckley writes about the impact of the government shutdown in southern NM. That area is represented by GOP Rep. Steve Pearce and he's feeling the political heat:

Joe, Add Socorro to the communities affected seriously by the shutdown. Last week the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NORA) furloughed 250 employees. BLM and Fish and Wildlife are also furloughed. The Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is shutdown, which puts the Festival of the Cranes at risk. Collectively, this is a substantial hit to this small community. Pearce is not making any friends here.


There are no provisional ballots in elections in the city of ABQ. So reminds ABQ State Senator and election law expert Daniel Ivey-Soto.

He was listening to our Election Night broadcast on KANW last week when we wondered how many "provisional" ballots might be outstanding. Those are ballots used in state elections when a voter shows up to vote but whose name is not on the list of registered voters or who records show already voted early. In ABQ city elections there are no provisionals. Ivey-Soto says if the records don't show the voter on the rolls or having already voted, they don't get to vote.

Paul Sandman won $25 in our recent photo caption contest featuring Governor Martinez. His caption for the Governor as she closed her yes and smile while getting a flu shot was: "Thank God for Obamacare!" Sandman wants to clarify:

In your contest last you thought my caption was humorous. It was not intended that way, it was a reality check on how smart the Governor's campaign is so far. She has supported the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare and Dem Sen. Udall has supported her tax cuts. What can Democrats campaign on next year that can both excite their base and attract independents?

That, Paul, may be the $64,000 question for 2014.

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