Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Plea Deal For Dianna Not In The Cards, Plus: More On The Slow Motion Saga Of An Embattled Secretary Of State, And: ABQ Econ Boss Says Jobs Are Out There 

AG Balderas
Welcome back. Today marks the start of our 13th consecutive year of "New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan" so let's get to it.

Don't look for Attorney General Hector Balderas to cut a plea bargain deal with Secretary of State Dianna Duran in exchange for her to resign. That from a source in the know reacting to speculation here about the possibility of a plea deal.

For now, Duran continues to hang tough when it comes to resigning. The next act in the political melodrama, absent a resignation, will likely come when the state House signals its intention to impeach Duran. She would then be expected to blink and decide to resign rather than become the first official in state history to be disgraced by impeachment.

A senior lawmaker says the House will have plenty of time to ready the impeachment charges for the January legislative session and there should be no delay in taking them up. If for some reason there was a delay, the Governor could call the Legislature into special session to do the task. But that would cost more taxpayer money so the pressure is on to get the job done in the 30 day '16 session.

Having Duran, who is accused of violating the campaign laws she is charged with enforcing, preside over the SOS office in the upcoming election year is the sword hanging over the heads of the Republicans. Quickly dispatching Duran is imperative or the Dems will start banging the war drums in earnest. Right now they are warming up in the bullpen as evidenced by this statement Tuesday from party headquarters:

Enough is enough; Secretary of State Dianna Duran must resign immediately. Rather than performing the duties she was elected to do, Secretary of State Dianna Duran has become singularly focused on abusing the powers of her office to carry out a political vendetta. It is clear that Duran is attempting to distract from the fact that she has been charged with 64 counts of criminal violations that include embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, violations of the Campaign Practice Act, the Governmental Conduct Act, tampering with public records, and conspiracy.

That "vendetta" the party sites is Duran turning over to the AG a campaign finance complaint against ABQ Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas.

AG Balderas has told Duran that because of the charges he has brought against her he is discontinuing his office's legal representation of the SOS and asking that she send campaign ethics complaints to local district attorneys. Duran's office calls it a political move. Balderas says he will continue to handle the Maestas complaint because it was referred to him by the media and not the SOS.


Is impeachment a foregone conclusion?  Recent wondering aloud by ABQ GOP State Rep, Bill Rehm about whether the charges against Duran are possibly ethical but not criminal violations--raised eyebrows. Avoiding impeachment seems politically impossible for the House R's (and the Governor) but how about a motion to censure Duran and not impeach? Highly improbable but thrown on the the table by a Senior Alligator monitoring the situation. The House has hired heavy ABQ legal hitter Robert Gorence to handle the impeachment case.

Back on the plea angle, ABQ Legal Beagle Jeff Baker has some fun with it:

How about the following scenario: Dianna Duran enters a guilty plea to multiple misdemeanors. As part of the deal, she provides a detailed factual basis for each of her guilty pleas, plus she has to acknowledge she has a gambling problem for which she will seek help. She resigns her office, and gets to keep her state pension. The Legislature saves the cost and distraction of impeachment proceedings. Hector Balderas takes credit for (1) getting Dianna Duran out of office and (2)saving the taxpayers the expense of impeachment proceedings. Balderas then calls on the Legislature and Governor to create an independent ethics commission. Everybody wins, sort of.

Intriguing plot line, Jeff. We'll send it up to Hector's place but don't think it will find any takers.

By the way, if Duran is convicted in criminal court of any of the felonies the AG has charged her with, she would lose her state pension and upon conviction would no longer be able to serve as Secretary of State. And one more "by the way." If Duran is impeached by the House and convicted at a trial by the state Senate, she is removed from office but does not lose her state pension as a result.


We told you it wouldn't be so bad if you did this, Moe:

Since the (campaign report) discrepancies came to my attention, I have hired a reputable accounting firm to independently reconcile contributions with reports. Once completed, my reports will be amended accordingly and available online.

That would be ABQ Dem State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas to those of you new to this thing of ours.


Here we go. . . yet again:

A new report by WalletHub ranks Albuquerque 404th out of 515 U.S. cities in the 2015 Cities with the Fastest Growing Economies study. . . The survey looked at 10 key metrics, from population growth to job growth, and studied data from 2008 to 2014. Albuquerque's unemployment rate increased by more than 5 percent during the period studied, a big factor in the city's low rating. Albuquerque also had negative growth in regional GDP per capita, number of businesses and median house prices. While the poverty rate decreased by nearly 4.5 percent, the total number of jobs declined.

You almost have to pity city Economic Development Director Gary Oppedahl. He really hasn't had a big jobs score on his watch, but says the bad news bears have been hogging the spotlight, arguing there are quite a few jobs available in the city:

Comcast: 300 positions available at the Customer Care Call Center, Xfinity Store, and in Comcast Field Operations. . . Fidelity Investments: 100 positions, including financial associates, customer service associates and others not requiring a financial services background. . . Flagship Food Group: About 50 positions open. . . 

Oppedahl posted his info on the "goodnewsnm" site. He probably has to go there three times a day to keep his morale up.

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