Monday, May 18, 2015

Just Call It Santa Fe, DC, Optics Problems For PNM And Grisham, Balderas Pulls No Punches On APD Kari Caper 

Just call it Santa Fe, DC. Washington style gridlock strikes again as the Republican Governor and Senate Democrats clash.

That's really in the "what else is new?" category. We've been walking this walk for nearly five years with Susana and sometimes before her with Dem Bill Richardson and Republican Gary Johnson. But stuff did get done under those two governors. We are at a standstill today with a Governor really not interested in putting legislative points on the board as long as she can demonize her opposition for the next round of voting and Democrats who loathe the punitive approach of her political machine and have decided to wait her out--even if that means a long three and half years of watching their toenails grow. . .

The death of the possible special legislation session to revive a $264 million public works bill that would have stimulated the state economy ended in the same crash and burn style as most everything else does in Santa Fe. Both sides pointed fingers at each other, with the Governor--as usual--taking the nastiest approach in the blame game.

No wonder so many legislators have retired in recent years. Even avuncular GOP House Speaker Don Tripp isn't going unscathed. He emerged in the special session negotiations looking like a rider in the Governor's sidecar. The Guv's political team called all the shots from the word go.  In fact, Tripp has been busted by the Las Cruces Sun-News for acting as if he had no idea what the Senate Dems were up to when, in fact, there had been considerable negotiations between both sides. The newspaper walked back an editorial critical of the Senate Dems when it was revealed that Tripp was up to his neck in the talks.

Hey, Don, if you want to be a figurehead, that's fine. Just don't pretend you are playing the power game of La Politica when you aren't. . . .

There's not many left around like former Dem State Sen. Joe Fidel of Grants. When he passed away recently at 91 his praises were sung by both Dems and R's. He left the Senate in 2006 after over 30 years there. His son Mark said he left because politics had become "mean-spirited" and serving was no longer "fun." He nailed that. Being mean-spirited seems to be what passes for fun among the new breed. A rosary and funeral Mass for Fidel will be held at 2 p.m. May 30 at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Grants.


Talk about an optics problem. PNM asked for a rate increase of upwards of 16% percent while giving its CEO a 16% increase in pay. The state Public Regulation Commission rejected the rate hike--for now. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales summed it up this way:

PNM's plan would have moved us in the wrong direction, hitting small businesses and families harder than anyone else and committing New Mexicans to a lifetime of coal-burning power. We have to start facing the realities of climate change. . . I applaud the decision and the unified voice of our Commissioners.

We don't know how much legs the climate change argument has, but a double-digit rate increase in this flat economic environment is a nonstarter,

And more optics problems for our congressional delegation. First, Sen. Martin Heinrich is busted for using government funds to finance commutes to the office. Now ABQ Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is busted for taking a trip to Azerbaijan that was funded by the state-owned oil company and for accepting gifts there that were more expensive than allowed. Never mind that most New Mexicans think Azerbaijan is located somewhere near Pojoaque. Our reps don't need to be losing their way when it comes to following the well-known rules.

One of our readers points out that Michelle's exotic travel wasn't actually a "junket" as the newspaper headlines screamed. That would be a trip financed by the taxpayers. Whatever the semantics, voters get the idea. .  .


Balderas and Brandenburg
Attorney General Hector Balderas pulled no punches as he called out APD for playing politics in its bribery investigation of Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg and scoring Brandenburg for “an appearance of impropriety” when she got in touch with victims of property crime cases in which her drug addicted son was a suspect. So what are we to take away from this? . . .

Well, certainly Brandeburg's maternal instinct went astray and as a result she exposed herself to an investigation. Her reputation has been hurt. But Balderas indicates APD leaked that bribery probe when Brandenburg let it be known she would be prosecuting two APD officers on murder charges. Also, media scrutiny of the bribery charges did not stand up, reinforcing the belief that rogue elements at APD were running the show. Which leads to the questions. . .

Is APD conducing "investigations" of their other perceived foes and isn't it time for the Justice Department or AG Balderas to go there? And just who in APD leaked the Brandenburg probe to the media? Does anyone care to take a look at that one? And, once again, what does Mayor Berry have to say about the attorney general's finding of politics at play in a criminal investigation at his police department? Oh, well, maybe John Sanchez can ask him. . .

Reader Alan Wagman adds to the discussion of the APD crisis:

In the context of reported APD intimidation of critics, you expressed the hope that the judiciary will resolve APD's problems. That, unfortunately, is a false hope. For one thing, neither the Justice Department nor the federal court will address issues not raised in the complaint DOJ filed in federal court. Intimidation is not raised. For a second thing, research has shown -- and DOJ has admitted in private meetings -- that the success of police reform depends not upon lawsuits but upon the will of a city's and a department's leadership to actually reform. Bottom line, the solution is political, not judicial.


Reader Martha Burk writes:

I am surprised that you posted an anonymous slam against me and the Albuquerque pay equity initiative without learning the facts. Those who know me, as Chair of the task force that crafted the initiative, and Clara Apodaca, who was a key member of the task force, know that neither of us would ever lend our names to anything that was not advancing the cause of equality for women. The folks that started the untrue rumors and posted a petition against the initiative have now apologized to me and to Councilor Gibson. If you plan future coverage, please call or email me so that I can fill you in on what the initiative is about.


Former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez writes of the passing this month of longtime Dem political consultant Harry Pavlides:

In a room full of people, he was always one I sought out both from a combination of an extraordinarily long history together, shared passions and his at times remarkable insights. As opinionated as he was, Harry didn't have a mean bone in his body. He wasn't always right (who is?) but was always informed. He was indefatigable, proud of his upbringing and heritage and we are diminished by his passing.

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