Monday, February 24, 2014

Vacancy At The Top; House Majority Leader Miera Leaving And The Speculation Begins, Plus: Newspaper Refuses To Endorse In Santa Fe Mayor's Race, And: Susana's Minimum Wage Gambit 

So who will be state House Majority Leader now that ABQ Dem Rep. Rick Miera has decided to head for the exits? Well, first tell us which party will control the House at the start of the 2015 legislative session. We might then have an inkling of who will take Miera's title.

If the Dems manage to hang on to their slim majority, you might say that House Majority Whip Moe Maestas of ABQ would be in line for the second top spot in the leadership. But maybe not. His credentials with the liberal base of the party have been mangled. In the '13 session there was his support of a controversial corporate income tax cut. This session there was his sponsoring of a a bill that would reduce electric rates for companies moving here but increase them on other rate payers. With that as a backdrop, speculation is already beginning about a battle for the majority leader slot.

With Kenny Martinez as Speaker, Miera as majority leader and Maestas as minority whip, there is a noticeable void in the leadership--no women. And the Dems are the party of women. Does that mean someone like Reps, Debbie Rodella, Gail Chasey or Mimi Stewart might compete to replace Mirera in the majority? Could be...

And what if the R's take over the House? Don Bratton as speaker and ABQ's Nate Gentry as majority leader seems to make sense in the early chatter.

As for Miera he told me the threat of the R's possibly taking over the House in November had nothing to do with his decision to leave after more than two decades of service. He said he "absolutely" expects the Dems to retain control. Spoken like a good solider...

Meantime, the race is on for Miera's seat. It is a rare opportunity for someone to fill the ABQ Valley vacancy. Early childhood advocate and community organizer Javier Martinez has thrown his hat into the ring. He says the aforementioned Moe Maestas has already endorsed him. (Is that a vote for Moe for majority leader?) And Dem Matt Ross is also looking to compete for the seat, although it leans Hispanic. No R's need apply. The seat is safe Dem....

GOP State Rep. Anna Crook joined Miera in announcing her retirement from the House. Several names are circulating as a possible replacement, including Clovis City Commissioner Randy Crowder who we're told Crook is supporting. No Dems need apply for this one. The district is solid R.

Will there be a Saavedra dynasty in the state House. ABQ South Valley Rep. Kiki Saavedra is vacating the seat after nearly 40 years and now we've learned that Randy Saavedra, one of Kiki's sons will soon join the race for the Dem June primary to replace him. Randy Saavedra is going to heat this contest up because Andres Romero, nephew of Dem Party heavy and former Ambassador Ed Romero is already campaigning hard. Randy Saavedra has taken much heat over several DWI arrests and that is sure to be a focus as this one gets going. (and there could be more candidates as well..)


Why is the Santa Fe New Mexican so tortured over the city's mayoral contest that it can't bring itself to endorse any of the three hopefuls and instead passes the buck to the voters saying the "choice is yours? Well, yes, that's a no-brainer. But how about some guidance on that decision so vital to Santa Fe, the traditional and important role of a strong daily newspaper?

The New Mexican's non endorsement editorial on Sunday decried the absence of perfection among the three candidates, saying, "in elections as in life there are few perfect choices." So why endorse anyone in any election?

We thought the point of owning a newspaper was to have a say in the direction of a city's leadership. If that's not longer the case, why own a newspaper?

As for the mayoral derby, Javier Gonzales has the lead in the insider campaign polling. The newspaper criticized him most in its editorial, but Bushee's failure to get the endorsement is seen as a blow to her chances to catch Gonzales in the final days before the March 4 election.


The news that Governor Martinez said in the aftermath of the legislative session that she would have been supportive of an $8 an hour minimum wage if it had been sent to her desk was so outlandish that even Senate Minority Leader Stu Ingle was jarred by the chutzpah of the chief executive. Martinez said nothing in public during the recent 30 day session about wanting an increase in the minimum wage and Ingle said he heard nothing from her in private or public.

The Dems failed to muster enough support to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot asking voters to approve an increase in the minimum. Republican opposition will be used against the Guv in the campaign.

On a pocketbook issue like this anyone making at or near the minimum wage knows precisely where the top politicians stand. We know because when we toiled for the then minimum wage of about $1.60 an hour word spread like wildfire anytime there were rumblings that the minimum might be increased. Nice try, Susana, but for your own good we'd remove this one from your bag of election year tricks...

Reader and longtime Dem Fred Moran has some thought on the minimum wage:

 Not only did legislative Democrats not have the votes but it was framed in such a way (constitutional amendment) that it was sure to fail. I agree that we should set a standard for a living wage but I think that we Democrats should lead by example.

I pay my full time employees $10.00 per hour or more. They may start at the minimum wage for a probation period, but when their work ethic has had a chance to be authenticated, they move into the $10.00 per hour range. I have employees that have worked for my business for over 17 years.

I encourage all State Democratic business' to do the same. If we do this after a while no one will want to work for a business that pays  less and "Viola" the minimum wage will go up.


New ABQ police Chief Gorden Eden says attacks on police officers are escalating nationwide and that could explain the spree of police shootings in ABQ. However, he is not committing to making any changes in APD training change in response to the many fatal police shootings here that have prompted the US Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation and are costing city taxpayers $10 millions of dollars in wrongful death lawsuits.

Maybe the new chief is right--that attacks on officers are up--we don't have the stats--but the point is not the number of attacks--the point is how the officers respond. Other cities, according to Eden, are experiencing increased attacks on officers, but few have the rate of fatal police shootings that we recently have witnessed. Other police departments must be reacting differently in handling the attacks on officers that concern Chief-to-be Eden? And perhaps he may want to reconsider his position on how we train our officers?

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