Monday, July 21, 2014

What If It's A Tie? Battle For State House Control Raises The Question, And: Healing The APD Wounds 

Now that it's clear that the battle for control of the NM House will be nationalized--labor unions in one corner and GOP groups in another--an intriguing question arises. What if the House currently divided 37 to 33 in favor of the Dems ends in a 35 to 35 tie on Election Night? What then?

You would have a coalition speaker, Roundhouse observers opine.  One outcome would have a handful of conservative Democrats--or even just one--bolting to the Republicans and backing the GOP choice for speaker. But another scenario would have the Dems offering up their own speaker, luring the R's into supporting that pick and being rewarded for doing so with committee chairmanships.

A conservative coalition now governs the state Senate and in the early 80's there was the "Cowboy Coalition" in the House when conservative Dems shared power with the R's. Back then a conservative Dem speaker was selected. . .

But it's a long way from a tie ball game. Dems appear better positioned than earlier this year. That's because of the national labor money coming in. Dems had feared a "nobody cares" attitude would take hold and the House would be allowed to fall easily into R hands for the first time in over 60 years.

With Democrats pledging a major fight, they improve their odds of keeping control. However, as one Alligator put it: "That the Dems have to fight to keep control of the House in a state where they are the  majority party speaks volumes about the condition of the party...."

And look at the money being spent on the key House races that will determine control of the 70 member chamber. From Cruces:

Joanne Ferrary, Democratic candidate for House District 37, announced raising over $70,000 for her second run against the incumbent Terry McMillian. After narrowly losing to McMillian by just 8 votes two years ago, Ferrary is back on the campaign trail. . .

That race will easily top six figures for each of the candidates--and that's for an unpaid job.


Anguished parents who have had children slain by APD since 2010 have been in the forefront of the movement to change the culture of the department. Mayor Berry, who has been criticized for being aloof to the pain and suffering of the police shooting victims, recently met with ABQ Forward--a coalition of community groups seeking reform. The group reports:

The mayor invited APD Forward to take part in his community collaborative process to reform APD. The first meeting for this series of community discussions will take place in August. All in all, it was a cordial and productive meeting. It ended with the mayor offering an apology to Steve Torres, Ken Ellis and Mike Gomez, who have all lost sons to officer-involved shootings.

The apology is obviously in order as the millions of dollars in lawsuit judgments against the city continue to mount. The US Department of Justice is negotiating a consent decree with ABQ that will call for specific reforms at APD.


Our reminisce about former NM Gov. Toney Anaya on the Thursday blog drew this from reader Hal Hensley in San Antonio, TX:

Joe, Another interesting “what-if” is whether or not the use of  “The Chinese Ship Jumping Scandal” in the 1974 attorney general campaign might have ended Toney’s career in elected office before it started. As a part of Frederick B. “Ted” Howden’s campaign during the Democratic primary, there was strong support by many to use this against Toney. Given his small margin of victory, despite support from most of the powers that were, it could very well have made a difference. In Ted’s usual understated style, however, he simply said we were not going to use it and we weren’t going to talk about it any more; end of story. I was sad to see New Mexico lost Ted earlier this month. He was one of the most decent individuals and candidates for whom I have ever worked.

Anaya beat Howden by only about 2,500 votes in that '74 primary duel.


The NM congressional delegation wants to protect funding for the troubled WIPP site, but if they are not vigorous in pursuing accountability, their Capitol Hill colleagues could balk. The news:

Just five days after an underground truck fire closed the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the Energy Department awarded the contractor that operates the nuclear repository $1.9 million for “excellent” performance during the past year. One radiation leak and two sharply worded accident investigation reports later slamming the same contractor for long-running safety and maintenance problems, that award now looks to some like insult atop injury. How could there have been such a disconnect between the Department of Energy’s own assessment of its contractor’s performance and what independent investigators would find soon after? 

Much like APD, DOE and WIPP need a major cultural change and it will take leadership to get it.


This is always a quaint part of La Politica:

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A county magistrate race that ended in a tie has finally come to a head, or rather, heads. Kenneth Howard Jr. made the lucky call in a coin toss in a Gallup courtroom, winning a four-year term as McKinley County magistrate judge. . .A recount of the June 3 Democratic primary found Howard and Robert Baca each received exactly 2,879 votes. State law mandates a tie must be decided by lot. A Democratic Party official tossed a 50-cent piece, and Howard got to make the call as the candidate who was lower on the ballot. Since there's no opponent on the general election ballot, Howard gets the job. . . 

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