Monday, August 26, 2019

Defiant Sen. Martinez Announces Reelect Bid; Will His DWI Surface A Strong Foe? Plus: Plum UNM Job Could Go To Politico  

There wasn't even a hint of contrition as embattled Democratic State Senator Richard Martinez emerged from two months of hiding to comment on his aggravated DWI arrest. When asked if he planned to resign, he was defiant: "I have no intention to resign," he declared. And bursting the hopes of those who thought the humiliating viral video of his arrest would persuade him to end his political career, he added: "And I'm running for re-election, too."

With that Martinez may have set up a test of the boundaries of what his largely rural northern district expects and will tolerate in a lawmaker. It certainly will draw unwanted attention to the Democratic leaders in the legislature and party who have refused to call for his resignation or even condemn his refusal to take a breath test after getting into a traffic accident in EspaƱola.

The Governor chastised him but fell short of demanding his resignation. And a possible Dem primary opponent--State Rep. Susan Herrera--has bowed out. So it's not certain that Martinez will face a primary challenger.

His district is 65 percent Democratic so he obviously sees an escape route from the humiliating video that has come to define him to the state, even as supporters argue his long record of service should excuse his behavior. But at 66 shouldn't he know better?

The North is changing. There's a gay Republican Mayor in heavy Dem EspaƱola (who would have thunk?) and the aforementioned Rep. Herrera ousted ethically challenged Dem State Rep. Debbie Rodella in the '18 primary. Here in ABQ GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood lost her seat to a Dem in '18 following her DWI arrest and the viral video that resulted.

Martinez and his fellow lawmakers have spent countless hours and appropriated millions of dollars to address the state's chronic DWI problem. His district is home to some of the highest rates of substance abuse in the nation. His refusal to take the high road and resign makes the stench of hypocrisy waft even stronger over him, the legislature and the Democratic Party. Not to mention that he chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that authors the DWI laws applied to the citizenry.

Martinez's exaggerated narcissism in the face of disgrace seems not to bother any of them one bit. Will it bother his district enough to generate an able opponent? Or will we see the Governor, who says elected officials like Martinez must be held to a higher standard, give him the pen she uses to sign the next piece of DWI legislation?


A UNM search for a "Chief Government Relations Officer," a position with starting pay from $175,000 to $250,000, is drawing the attention of insiders who point out that prominent politicos are surfacing as possibles. A higher ed Alligator reports:

Could State Senator John Sapien (D-Bernalillo) abandon his district before a tough primary battle? It would be a really soft landing for the senator. So far, he has no announced primary opponent but it is a swing district. My understanding is the progressives are looking for a primary challenger.  The other name floating around is Democratic Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins. Perhaps unable to find a position for Maggie in the Lujan Grisham administration, the 4th floor could be looking to help Maggie find a soft landing before she is termed out in 2020. . . It looks like the new President is en route to keeping alive the UNM tradition of hiring politicos for six-figure jobs. 

$250k a year to start? That may not be a smooth swallow for the public, especially given the recent indictment of former Athletic Director Paul Krebs.

If you're thinking about getting your resume in order, don't. The plum position was advertised for just two weeks in July. Applications are no longer being taken.

Speaking of the embezzlement indictment of ex-UNM AD Krebs, reader Richard Flores writes:

As a taxpayer, it is my opinion that the Attorney General's decision to indict Krebs is the right decision. If there are others that were complicit in the misuse of university funds, they too, should be indicted if there is evidence of wrongdoing . . .Perhaps all those who benefitted from Mr. Krebs's largess, be it a free golfing trip to Scotland or free use of the suites at the Pit, can now come together to pay for his defense. Our UNM students deserve a "fair shake" when it comes to how university funds are used and ethical behavior from university leaders. 

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