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Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Little Village That Couldn't; Chama Water Woes Result Of Years Of Neglect  

The tiny Village of Chama is out of water and has declared a state of emergency. 

That's a declaration that gets a whole lot of attention from residents of our high desert climate state, even if it is impacting a tiny enclave of about 1,000 nestled close to the Colorado border. Lack of water is always on the subconscious here as we fall in and out of drought. 

But Chama's water woes were not caused by a lack of water, they were caused by incompetence and a lack of caring about maintaining the water system:

Village mayor pro tem Matthew Gallegos said they did not have an estimate on when water would be turned back on but a company to help identify the leak in the water line would be available on Thursday. “We did the water plan three years ago and we secured money to fix that water plant,” Gallegos said. “I don’t know who dropped the ball but the new design of the plant imploded and we had to spend our own savings account to fix it. It’s never worked, we’ve always been behind the ball and it’s just gotten worse and worse.” 

But it wasn't only three years ago that things "imploded":

A 2016 report by the New Mexico State Engineer’s Office found the village of Chama’s water system frequently struggled with “bacteria and other organisms in its surface water,” and cited turbidity as a common issue in the Rio Chama area. . . In the past decade, the Environment Department has found the village in violation 21 times, mostly for failing to report samples of dangerous substances in the water. 

It seems a culture of apathy took hold in Chama, a serene outpost that attracts thousands of summer visitors and a fair share in the winter as well. We've also seen that attitude take hold on occasion in the village's big brother neighbors.

In Santa Fe multiple administrations have presided over sloppy financial practices and in ABQ’s APD a years-long culture of anything goes brought in the US Justice Department to supervise the department.

Two years ago Chama residents were forced to boil their water to keep it safe. Now they don't even have that option and are relying on water brought in by the state. And it's not like Chama is broke. They have $800,000 in state capital outlay approved for their water problems but it has sat there---until now. 

Chama is a village that holds much charm and is a jewel in the New Mexico crown. If you go be sure to say hello to the mayor and village councilors for us--after you wake them from their naps. And remember to BYOB.

THE BOTTOM LINES

ABQ Mayor Tim Keller delivers his state of the city address Saturday morning in a party like atmosphere at the downtown Rail Yards. . . GOP Guv candidate Mark Ronchetti has released a plan to fight crime while MLG continues her advertising blitz defending her crime record. . .The AP takes a look at the growing political divide between rural and urban New Mexico, accentuated by the reluctance of the Otero County Commission to certify the county's primary election results, 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Brook Backs Off; City Councilor Feels The Heat And Sees The Light; Abandons Homeless Encampment Concept Amid Constituent Outcry; What's Next As City Wrestles With Growing Homeless Dilemma  

Homeless in the 505
"When I feel the heat, I see the light." 

So said the late great US Senator Everett Dirksen and so it is for our very own ABQ GOP City Councilor Brook Bassan

In one of the more high profile cases of a politician touching a hot stove Bassan has backed off from her support for city sanctioned homeless encampments for each of the nine city council districts. 

The decision came after she was scorched by her constituents at a meeting that drew 150 from her NE Heights district. Bassan will now propose repealing the legislation that would have made possible the encampments and was approved by Council on a 5 to 4 vote. Here's her mea culpa:

I initially supported sanctioned encampments based on the understanding that existing vagrancy, loitering, trespassing and overnight camping laws would be enforced once we created the sanctioned encampments. However, upon hearing Mayor Tim Keller’s recent press conference statements, it has become clear that this enforcement is highly unlikely to occur. That means creating sanctioned encampments won’t work. Additionally, I have heard your voice in opposition to sanctioned encampments. I have always promised to listen to my constituents and then act on their behalf. I have always promised that, if I ever made a mistake such as this, I would apologize and work to correct my action. I am sorry for not registering your opposition to this idea sooner. Moving forward, I will work even harder to represent your voice in city government.

Bassan's reversal is also a defeat for Mayor Keller who, like mayors around the nation, has struggled to deal with a a ceaseless flow of homeless in major metro areas. Anecdotal evidence suggests the problem here is worsening. And no wonder with the aftermath of the pandemic and skyrocketing rents. 

With Bassan backing away the council is expected to join her in reversing approval for the encampments. Then it's back to the drawing board. Meantime the tide is turning away from tolerance for the homeless toward a get tough attitude. 

Councilor Bassan
Keller and his police chief Harold Medina insist the federal courts have tied their hands in dealing with the homeless population that commits illegal offenses, but others heartily disagree and say laws on the books offer the administration plenty of opportunity to alleviate some of the worst public behavior that is making the quality of life dive in sections of the city. 

As for Bassan, she came on the city council as a bright light of moderation and remains so. Her reversal may spare her a stiff election challenge next year. But that's not a given. 

Keller must now think about pulling a Bassan and at least somewhat altering course from the progressive path in dealing with the homeless, as have his counterparts in California and elsewhere. 

The ultimate solution for the vast majority of the homeless population is housing, housing, housing (and addiction treatment). The city is already spending tens of millions annually on affordable housing and services but if there was ever a time for Keller to look to Santa Fe for relief, it's now. 

The state is awash in billions in surplus funds from the oil boom. In addition more billions are set to flow into the state in the next several years from that mammoth federal infrastructure bill. Can the Mayor, Governor and legislators talk about the possibility--remote or not--of employing any of those funds for housing? 

NIMBY--not in my backyard--is now the clarion call for ABQ neighborhoods who see themselves as threatened by the homeless. Unless funding is found for additional housing--in combination with enforcing the law--there's no reason to believe the din will be quieted anytime soon. 

CAMPAIGN TRAIL

So long, Hector. It's Dem Attorney General nominee Raul Torrez now taking center stage as AG Hector Balderas finishes up his second term and Torrez has a lay-up in beating the Republican nominee in November to become the next AG. 

On that path, he is campaigning with Sec. of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver who also appears to be a shoo-in for another term 

As for Hector, he's been suffering some unkind cuts as he eyes the exits. For example, his office was fined $40,000 for failing to comply with a records request from former APD Chief Geir who asked for all correspondence involving him between the AG and APD. 

That from the office that tells other government agencies to comply with the transparency laws--and pronto. 

Toulouse Oliver has been in the spotlight over election integrity issues since the Otero County Commission refused without reason to certify the primary election results. In the face of possible criminal charges the three member all GOP commission finally buckled and certified the results. 

Their approval came at a bizarre twenty minute meeting (full video here) last week that had one commissioner still voting against the certification, arguing that he knew in his gut that something was awry with the voting. (Maybe it was just a bad hamburger?)

Another commissioner continuously waved a piece of paper, fanning her face as she announced it was very hot in the commission chambers. No one one else was fanning themselves but then no one was feeling as much political heat as Commissioner Vickie Marquardt. 

Hey, Vickie. You know what they say--if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen--or in this case the Otero County Commission. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Life And Death In Gallup New Mexico; Former Mayor Offers Up A Solid Summer Read On The State's Most Inscrutable City, Plus: Learning The Hard Way For Councilor Bassan 

Summer '22 arrives today so let's dive into the pool as well as a good book as we soak up the languid days under the New Mexico sun. 

Former Gallup Mayor Bob Rosebrough comes with a page turner that chronicles his life in the city that he so accurately describes as "disproportionately wonderful and terrible." 

In A Place of Thin Veil: Life And Death In Gallup New Mexico, Rosebrough ponders his personal and political journey. His wonder for the eccentric Navajo reservation bordertown and its unique culture is evident throughout. So is his dread of the terrible, symbolized by an alcohol epidemic that came to define Gallup and dominated his struggles as mayor of the city that originated as a rail and coal town in the early 20th century. 

Rosebrough, an attorney and native of Farmington, settled in Gallup after college, a move he notes was reminiscent of another NM politico--former NM Governor Arthur Hannett of New York who disembarked in Gallup over a hundred years ago and like Rosebrough found himself dumbfounded and delighted and hung up his legal shingle. 

Rosebrough was doing fine as an attorney but the old ways of Gallup--chiefly the denial of its alcoholic personality by the old guard--gnawed at him and he eventually responded to the calls of his neighbors to run for mayor. He was elected to a four year term in 2003. It was an opportunity that he would come to both honor and regret. 

Mayor Rosebrough's efforts to change much of what turned out to be unchangeable left him intellectually and spiritually exhausted, but he seems too quick to point to his defeats rather than his accomplishments.

Mayor Rosebrough 
They included a ban on sales to intoxicated individuals that saw two of the worst drunk bars sell out after being cited multiple times; he met with success when he pushed bars to voluntarily ban early morning sales; he persuaded the state legislature to extend the period for detox holds from 12 to 72 hours and as an avid outdoorsman he advanced Gallup's opportunities in that area. 

Gallup's alcohol obsession demanded (and continues to demand) a 12 step program. Rosebrough got the city to swallow several steps but at the end of his term it was clear, he writes, that the "old guard" had waited him out. He gladly returned to private life. 

Readers will enjoy the many characters Rosebrough introduces as well as a look at his somewhat icy relationship with fellow Democrat and Gov. Bill Richardson. But it is his candidness describing his own inner demons as he wrestles with the challenges of the day that will especially resonate with a political audience.  

When his term ended Rosebrough recalls a constituent thanking him for ridding Gallup of its reputation as "Drunk City." He didn't eradicate that moniker entirely but looking back he was a man ahead of his time in a place where inscrutability conquers even the most ardent agents of change.

You can buy the book here

THE HARD WAY

ABQ GOP City Councilor Brook Bassan found out the hard way that the city is not ready for homeless encampments in each of the nine council districts. A big crowd faced off with her as she shopped the idea to her mostly conservative NE Heights district. 

Clearly Bassan and Mayor Keller and company have much groundwork to do before this idea gets off the ground, even if the City Council has already approved the concept on a 5 to 4 vote. 

The legislation is called "Safe Outdoor Space" for the homeless but it's Bassan who now needs a safe harbor as her district turns on her. She has time to find one. She's not up for re-election until 2023. (Bassan has now introduced legislation to repeal the proposed homeless encampments).

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Monday, June 20, 2022

Photo Caption Contest Winners 

We pause this holiday for a bit of political humor and finish up our photo caption contest of MLG and President Biden chatting it up as they prepare to leave KAFB for Santa Fe for a wildfire briefing earlier this month. 

It was no surprise that the dramatic height difference between the political pair received much attention from readers competing for one of two free lunches. 

Reader Mary Darling came with this:

 Joe to MLG: "I mean no disrespect but, it's kind of hard not to talk down to you!"

An anonymous reader wrote:

Joe to MLG: "Would you like a booster seat?"

Reader James Bostrom had this caption:

"Michelle, when they ask me Red or Green, what should I say??"

MLG's Covid jewelry adventure drew this caption from an anonymous reader:

Joe: "Do you think I can I get the same discount as you at Lilly Barrack?"

And, of course, Crotchgate had to make an appearance:

"So you're saying you grabbed his crotch...and he didn't like it?" 

Reader Santana Salazar had this:

POTUS: “Can you see? I was this close to bringing a booster seat.” 

MLG: “Are you tired? I was that close to bringing you a neck pillow.” 

Larry Anderson wrote:

Joe: "I'm trying not to be recognized by wearing these sunglasses. I'm just not as good at it as you are."

Michelle: "Nonsense, Joe. Just leave the shades on and get lower in the seat like me."

Patrick Stewart captioned the photo this way:

POTUS to the Secret Service: "Can we get a booster seat, she can't see the smoke from the fires from back here!"

Cheryl Haaker wrote:

Joe: "So, where can we get some of this 'bowl of green' diplomacy that Bill Richardson always talks about?"   

Reader Rodger Beimer came with this:

Joe: “I’m a car guy. If they’d just let me drive, we’d be in Santa Fe in 30 minutes!” 

David Hadwiger had this caption:

Joe: "I don't understand, Governor. You want to add a question on the next Census for New Mexico, "Green or Red?"  

This reader joked about MLG's efforts to get a job with the Biden administration:

Joe: "What job was it that you wanted?" 

MLG: Ever had posole and red chile at Thanksgiving or seen the Santa Fe Plaza decked out for Christmas? Come back around then and we can talk. 

We thought Santana Salazar's sarcasm was on the mark and he wins a free lunch at Barelas Coffee House. And in a nod to the many height jokes, the second lunch goes to witty reader Patrick Stewart. 

Thanks to everyone for playing along. And Happy Juneteenth Day.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022
 
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