Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Who's The Richest Of Them All In Fair New Mexico? We Have His Name, Plus: The Manny Ortiz Question; Rogue Treasurer's Political Impact Analyzed, And: APD & The Media; Relationship Debated 

It doesn't take a cool billion to be the richest person in New Mexico. $800 million does the trick.

The distinction of being the richest goes to John A. Yates of the well-known Artesia-based and family-owned Yates Petroleum Company.

The Yates family started in the oil business back in the wild catting days of the 20's and built a fortune in oil and natural gas exploration.

The information on his wealth comes from WealthX.com, a website that says it "is the definitive source of intelligence on the ultra wealthy." Here is their complete list of the richest person in all 50 states.

The Yates family has been one of the state's most politically active business families. They've given large amounts to a long list of GOP politicos, including Governor Martinez. They are also well-known for their philanthropy and support of New Mexico State University.

Business observers were given a surprise last year when the Yates' looked to sell their company, but it was reported that  they did not get a bid that satisfied them and the company remains unsold.

The price of oil today remains over $90 a barrel and the SE NM economy continues to boom. If history is a guide, the boom could easily turn to a bust. But if you have $800 million in your account, you can pretty much endure any storm that comes your way. You think?

By the way....

Harvey Yates, Jr., the former NM GOP chairman and a member of the oil family, had a falling out with Governor Martinez. But that hasn't spread to the entire clan. A recent fund-raising invite for a Roswell event for Martinez listed several members of the Yates family as hosts.


Ortiz & Padilla
Unless he starts some serious damage control and soon, Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz--fairly or unfairly--may find himself getting associated with the likes of Robert Vigil and Michael Montoya. Remember them? They were both state treasurers who both ended up in federal prison on corruption charges.

Now we have the Bernalillo County Commission--three Democrats and two Republicans--voting to condemn Ortiz and his risky investment policies with a 5-0 vote of "no confidence."

There are no allegations of criminal activity in Ortiz's decision to put the county nest egg in long term investments that are way too risky for meeting daily cash needs, but the microscopes are coming out.

It's strange how history repeats itself or comes close to doing so. When Michael Montoya was state Treasurer, Robert Vigil served as his top deputy. When Vigil was Treasurer Montoya served as his #1 aide.

In Bernallio County, former county Treasurer Pat Padilla serves as Ortiz's investment officer. When Padilla was Treasurer Ortiz served as Padilla's investment officer.

And now Pat Padilla is seeking the Democratic nomination to become--guess what?---state treasurer!

A no-confidence vote separates the county commissioners politically from the troubled Treasurer, but who is going to protect our money? The problem cries out for a special investigation.

We asked veteran politico and ABQ radio talk show pioneer Mike Santullo--who ran for county treasurer in the 80's--to assess the political impact of the scandal surrounding Bernallio County investments and Treasurer Ortiz.

Joe, This improves the prospect of former State Senator Tim Eichenberg in the Democratic primary for state Treasurer. He has said he will put his own personal wealth into the campaign, so we know he will have the resources to go negative on candidate Patrick Padilla and alert the public to his problems. Also, Eichenberg is a former Bernalillo County Treasurer. The other Democratic candidate, John Wertheim, could also have improved prospects--but only if he can compete financially with Eichenberg.

As for next November's election, it's important to remember that no Republican has been elected Treasurer since the 60's, but if the Republicans came with a strong candidate and decided to pour major money into the race, it could make it interesting. As it stands, the Democratic nominee is likely to be the next state Treasurer and it is increasingly unlikely that nominee will be Patrick Padilla.

Thanks, Mike. We would only add that if Padilla decides not to run, it would open the path for another Hispanic Democratic to get in the race with Eichenberg and Wertheim. We'll keep you posted.


On the Friday blog a longtime ABQ news producer who wishes to remain anonymous took APD to task for not being timely and informative when the city was shocked by the October 26 shooting spree by 35 year old Christopher Chase.

It ended with four law enforcement officers being wounded and Chase dead. An APD officer who was at the Chase scene has this response to the producer:

I was at  the scene of the shooting with Chase shortly after it happened. The media, as usual, are full of it. By the time the media arrived, any reporter on the job more than 5 minutes could tell the scene was secure. Yes, we had to move the media back at one point due to the possible threat of explosives, but there was no danger to anyone not wearing a badge.

Joe, the media in this city are spoiled. Spoiled by the previous Chief and his penchant for releasing stuff way to early. Scenes like those with the Chase call are extremely dynamic, fluid and chaotic. It takes time to sort through all the information we have, a great deal of which is flat wrong. Give us the time we need to control the scene, gather the facts, then we can present them. If it is an ongoing investigation we might not be releasing anything anytime soon. And by the way, if, in our rush to appease the media, we report something wrong, we get dragged over the coals by the same media. 

The media here has not been friendly to APD for years, albeit some of it was our own doing. Now that APD has decided to wait for all the facts, they want to scream foul. Does that seem fair to you? APD isn't withholding info just trying to get it right. And getting it right strikes me as way more important then the media frenzy to cut in with "Breaking News." If it had been an ongoing threat to public safety APD would have said so. And Chief Banks was there the entire time.

Veteran ABQ news reporter and public information officer Janet Blair, now retired, comes with this view:

You probably remember the 2010 shootings at Emcore Corp. It took APD at least 3 hours to get a newser together. In the meantime, desperate reporters were grabbing anyone they could find who might have information. Several stations interviewed Wal-Mart in order to get what scraps of information they might have. All APD needed to say is “we have a situation with a shooting and we are doing our best to determine exactly what happened and to protect our community. When we have solid information, we will get back to you.” Not a lot of information, but at least some message.

Thanks, Janet. You may recall that at the Emcore shooting the police initially said there were 8 people killed but the number turned out to be much lower. Some attribute that to APD being in too much of a rush to get information out to the media.

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