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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Gun Ban Slapped Down In Federal Court; Legal Setback For MLG But Also A Way Out Of The Corner, Plus: AG Returns Her Fire Following Ruling Also: Gov. Richardson Lies In State, Planning For The Surplus And More Reader Vox Populi  

Gov. Lujan Grisham found a rare moment of calm as she paid her respects to former Governor Bill Richardson amid what has been perhaps the most turbulent week of her governorship. 

As Richardson, who died September 1 at 75, lay in state at the Capital Rotunda the political waters continued to churn over MLG's hyper controversial ban on carrying guns in public in Bernalillo County. 

As expected, a federal judge slapped a temporary restraining order on enforcement of the 30 day ban, giving MLG a legal defeat but perhaps a reprieve from the outrage generated by her order and a way out of the corner she has placed herself in. 

She began that process with this reaction to the court defeat in which the judge threw her a bone:

Today a judge temporarily blocked sections of our public health order but recognized the significant problem of gun violence in this state, particularly involving the deaths of children. I refuse to be resigned to the status quo. As governor, I see the pain of families who lost their loved ones to gun violence every single day, and I will never stop fighting to prevent other families from enduring these tragedies. To be clear: gun violence and drug abuse are acute threats to public health and safety in this state. We will stay the course by increasing State Police presence in Bernalillo County, arresting the hundreds of violent offenders with outstanding warrants still on our streets, and directing our healthcare system to immediately expand capacity to accept persons experiencing drug addiction and homelessness. 

Over the past four days, I’ve seen more attention on resolving the crisis of gun violence than I have in the past four years. Now is the time to bring clarity of purpose: New Mexicans must again feel safe walking home from school, driving to the grocery store, or leaving their hometown baseball stadium. Who will stand up to protect families and children? I will. 

AG VS GUV (CONT.)

But MLG's frontal attack Tuesday on Attorney General Torrez, who crossed swords with her on the order, and accused him of basically being a failed BernCo District Attorney when he held the post before becoming AG, left a very sour taste with Torrez. He continued his feud with her following the ruling:

AG Torrez
Judge Urias’ decision to block implementation of the Governor’s unconstitutional Emergency Order is not at all surprising and the Attorney General hopes that today’s ruling will prompt the Governor to abandon her unilateral and divisive approach to complex problems and engage in a more deliberative process that will yield tangible results. . .The Attorney General is committed to the legislative process and to working with Governor Lujan Grisham to build a safer community without sacrificing the constitutional rights of our citizens. We need more and better trained police officers; stricter gun laws and tougher guidelines for pretrial detention; robust mental health and drug treatment; rehabilitation programs to reduce recidivism. . .

A clash between the AG and the Governor of the same party is highly unusual. But there is literally blood in the streets in our town--the blood of our children--and if these two want to spill some of their own in a fight to see who can do better, so be it. 

Maybe the upside of the Guv's misstep is that we get greater accountability among the politicians and law enforcement in the state and city. Up until now, they have utterly failed. 

(MLG had her General Counsel represent her at the hearing after Torrez, whose job it is to represent the Governor and state in lawsuits refused to do so.)

HOW IT CAME DOWN

As the gun ban frenzy peaked and the ruling by Judge David Urias, 56, a Biden appointee and UNM School of Law product, calmed the waters, a consensus among top sources in the political community started to take hold on how we got where we are. Here's how one sized it up:

Joe, The Governor was obviously prompted to take action by the shooting deaths in ABQ of a 5 year old and an 11 year old, but she acted impulsively which has often been a characteristic of her time in office. The Public Health Order she announced was not properly vetted so we had the surreal sight of other top Democratic officials rebuking the state's chief executive. The fallout was harsh and the Governor's fighting instinct then took over and she posted combative responses to her critics. Her goal of having a "dialogue" over guns was lost in the chaos. In the end she was stuck playing defense and now is trying to dig herself out of the hole she dug for herself. 

BACKLASH STILLED

While the backlash should be stilled with the court order Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca did get off this blast:

Judge Urias
We applaud the judge’s ruling against the governor and her unconstitutional order. The governor’s malfeasance and utter disregard for the Constitution is alarming. By her own admission, she believes there are virtually no limits to the exercise of executive power. The Constitution says otherwise, and today, the court took action to remedy her blatant abuse of power against the citizens of New Mexico. We hope this ruling and the vast backlash sends a clear message to the Governor and her allies—the people have had enough, and we will not stand by idly and allow our freedoms and rights to be eroded.

The conservative editorial board of the Wall St. Journal also took time to pile on:

Ms. Lujan Grisham’s order might have been meant to show she’s serious about gun violence. Instead it’s sending the message that she’s unserious about governing and ineffectual besides. Her comeuppance is a useful lesson for other Governors tempted to violate the Constitution to make a political point.

MOVING THE BALL

While Republicans had a field day attacking the Governor over her gun ban they did not appear to advance the ball very far. One of our Senior Alligators explains:

Joe, this state is now so Democratic that the consequences of this are within the Democratic Party--a split between the Dem conservatives and progressives. The Republicans have no major personality on the state stage to take advantage and their numbers in the Legislature are so slim that they are roadblocked there. I would give them the PR victory in MLG's misstep but unfortunately for them their relevancy remains borderline at best. 

Part of the reason for that irrelevancy is the continued embrace of radical Republican elements by the state party. That was again in evidence by the attendance of MAGA outlaw Couy Griffin at the news conference conducted Tuesday by GOP Chair Steve Pearce regarding the party's lawsuit over the Guv's gun ban. 

Still, the mishap has been a blow to the Governor's prestige and power at the Roundhouse, a sure sign that we are heading deeper into the traditionally more troubled second term for a Governor. 

Now that the court ruling has reduced the heat, her best bet may be to lay low and perhaps ponder what Bill Richardson would do, the man who helped start her off in public life and whose considered advice she will now surely miss. 

A PLAN?

Sen. Tallman
One item MLG could busy herself with is more specific and comprehensive plans for deployment of the billions of dollars that continue to accumulate in state reserves from the SE oil boom. We blogged about the lack Aug. 24 and ABQ Dem state Sen. Bill Tallman comes with this reaction: 

Joe: You are absolutely right to be distressed about the lack of planning regarding how to use the billions of dollars in "new" money to address the problems that lead to our low ranking in many of our quality of life rankings. NM has a long history of not performing statewide strategic planning on a number of the state's issues, problems and crises. Please see my attachment for 5 additional examples of nonplanning.

In that attachment Tallman lists behavioral health, education, replacing oil revenues, water infrastructure and how to allocate capital outlay funds. The full document is here

MORE VOX POPULI 

Gun conrol, like abortion, is an emotional trigger for many voters and that has been reflected in our email. An ABQ reader came with this: 

Joe, more money to hold a special legislative session is BS. We have enough laws. What we need is less talk. We need judges who actually punish criminals not judges who bypass commonsense and fall back on guidelines. This is not an issue of arresting criminals, it’s a penalty issue plain and simple. 

Reader Michele Connelly writes:

Hi Joe, Thank you for your excellent, balanced, sane coverage of MLG and the gun ban. I know of no one else who is saying what needs to be said. Keep it up!  

Will do, Michele.

Thanks for checking in here. 

Reporting from ABQ, I'm Joe Monahan

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2023

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Guns In The Streets Amid Guv Gun Ban; Time To Turn Down The Temperature, Plus: AG Torrez Piles On And MLG Unloads; Won't Defend Guv; Rep. Vasquez Breaks Silence; No CNN Softballs For MLG; Readers Weigh In On Ban; Keller And Medina Want Special Session 

Sometimes it's better to quit when you're behind. 

So it is for Governor Lujan Grisham as well as her harshest critics as heavily armed men turn up at protests over her 30 day ban on carrying guns in public in Bernallio County. 

It happened in Old Town Sunday and it happened again Tuesday. As you see from the AP photo, men openly defying the gun ban with their faces disguised and looking like Third World warriors gathered at Civic Plaza in the heart of the state's largest city. 

With passions running high the scene looks like an accident waiting to happen. State Police have been instructed to enforce the law but doing so could set off something no-one wants to see. The state is in a stand-off. The atmosphere shouldn't be allowed to advance into a tinderbox.

MLG did her first national TV interview on her ban Tuesday. It should be her last. Let things cool down. The state GOP announced that today it will add to the pile of lawsuits against the ban. They should also discourage armed public protests and let the courts do their work. 

There was an apparent murder-suicide in the county Monday and another murder in the city. Let's not tempt the fates.

Now on to the latest news on the gun ban imbroglio . . .

TORREZ PILES ON

Attorney General Raul Torrez is now joining the crowd of Dem law enforcement officers piling on the Governor. He says although it is the job of his office to defend her against the many lawsuits filed, he won't do so because he disagrees with her gun ban and claims that he is not "ethically permitted" to provide a defense.

That argument was attacked as flimsy since Torrez could simply state his disagreement and let assistant attorneys general go to work. Now he says the administration can hire other attorneys at taxpayer expense to defend her. 

Then there is the fact that it took Torrez, who presided over the ABQ crime wave as BernCo District Attorney, four full days before he announced his decision--after he had plenty of cover for his position from other law enforcement. Not exactly a profile in political courage. 

The relationship between Torrez and MLG has been strained of late as he attempts to spread his wings over state education policy as well as CYFD. Her office did not hide her disdain over his refusal to take on the lawsuits:

The governor's office received the letter from the Attorney General Torrez and let me be clear - Gov. Lujan Grisham did not ask the attorney general to represent the state. The crime issue in Albuquerque should come as no surprise to AG Torrez - as Bernalillo County DA, his office's 66% dismissal, acquittal and mistrial rates certainly did not help solve the issue.Additionally, abysmal success rates in DA Torrez's pretrial detention hearings put dangerous criminals back out on the streets. The governor is looking for state leaders to step up and take bold steps to make New Mexicans safer from the scourge of gun violence. We invite the Attorney General to turn his attention to that effort.

In his letter to MLG Torrez said the state needs:

More and better trained police officers; stricter gun laws and tougher guidelines for pretrial detention; robust mental health and drug treatment; rehabilitation programs to reduce recidivism; real-time data on gun crimes and gun trafficking; and a protective services framework that keeps today’s child victims from maturing into the next generation of repeat offenders.

Fine, but that's not the job of the attorney general. Defending whoever is Governor from lawsuits is. Does the AG really need to add another questionable constitutional decision to this time of turmoil? Is he advancing his own interests and not those of the taxpayers? Just asking.

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of Democratic Civil War, you sure are getting it.

VASQUEZ SPEAKS

Southern NM US Rep. Gabe Vasquez is another Democrat who stayed in the shadows during the initial firestorm over the gun ban. After pressure from his Republican opponent, Yvette Herrell, and the national Republicans in DC, Vasquez, in a heated battle in his swing district for reelection next year, came with a statement. It was similar to the milquetoast one from Sen. Heinrich, who Vasquez once worked for. Take a look:

Gun violence is a national crisis that is deeply impacting our families, our children, and our schools. We must address this crisis by keeping New Mexico families safe while also supporting solutions that are constitutional and protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. I look forward to working with the Governor to address this crisis while taking the most effective, legal steps to stem the scourge of gun violence.

Like Heinrich, Vasquez did not mention the specific public health order MLG invoked. It was a weak walk around. It makes Herrell look as tough as nails which she is and which she probably eats for breakfast. 

MLG AND CNN

The CNN interview the Guv gave Tuesday was no softball session. The transcript and video are here. The ten minute session centered on the constitutionality of her actions and challenged her responses. One of our Alligators opined: "If CNN isn't going to give her a break, there isn't going to be any." House Republicans questioned why MLG gave the interview from Houston and was not at her office during the crisis. The answer is that she was attending a clean energy conference.

VOX POPULI 

As you might expect reader interest runs high in the latest twists and turns in the ABQ crime crisis. From our email reader Paul Haidle has thoughtful commentary:

Joe, I think there are two issues of concern that I haven't seen raised yet in most coverage of the issue, and I think they are issues that many of us on the Left care about (not just conservative Dems, independents, and Republicans). 

Dangerous Precedent: Consolidating power in the executive rarely works out well for democracy and has often had terrible impacts for disfavored/unpopular populations. The concern is if the courts uphold the Governor's ability to suspend the Constitution every time there is a "public health" emergency, who's to say that a future Governor won't use these powers to suspend habeas corpus, the right to First Amendment protest, abortion access, or any other politically divisive issue?

Shotgun Approach to Policy: The other major concern is that by the Gov's own admission, this policy is likely unconstitutional and also ineffective. This idea that we "must do something" may rile up her base for political reasons but is the worst way to make effective, evidence based policy. This approach almost always has terrible unintended consequences particularly for people of color in marginalized communities. Many of the criminal justice laws we have in the US (see War on Drugs) have followed this approach of we must "do something" and as a result we have a system of mass incarceration that is racially biased, completely ineffective at preventing crime, costs billions of dollars, and has led to the US having more people locked up than any other country in the world. 

Thanks for providing nuanced coverage on this, much appreciated. 

Thanks, Paul. Another reader writes:

Not my favorite Governor, but good for her! Yes, this is going to be proven unconstitutional. And yes, probably hurt her politically and personally in every way. But darn it, something needs to be done to curb the gun violence in Albuquerque. She threw down the gauntlet, now let’s see if her critics step up and offer solutions, not just criticism as some will seek their gain from this. She’s outraged at another murder of a child and so are we.

LEADING ABQ

Keller and Medina
Trying to stay relevant after the Governor appears to the public as though she also has his job, ABQ Mayor Tim Keller Tuesday again called for a special session of the Legislature to deal with violent crime. Like AG Torrez, he released a long list of proposals previously aired:

Albuquerque families can’t afford political debates that distract us from fighting violent crime. This is a powerful moment to listen to police and behavioral health professionals to create the change we need in a special session. . . Now is the time to actually change the laws and provide the funding needed to fix a broken criminal justice system, to crack down on assault weapons, target fentanyl dealers, rebuild the addiction treatment system, and amp up resources for courts and prevention programs.

Embattled APD Chief Medina joined the call for a special session, emphasizing what has become his trademark blame-shifting, saying:

We have consistently advocated for increased funding, along with more accountability, for all other parts of the criminal justice system to ensure we are all doing everything possible to crack down on crime. But little has changed, because our jail sits half empty while repeat offenders are out on Albuquerque’s streets.

The mayor and chief are so repetitive it's like listening to your favorite old Beatles tune--you can sing along with every verse. 

What is not being said is how the APD and city administration can do a better job with the record amount of resources awarded them each and every budget cycle. Is all of this crime a result of factors beyond their control? Really?

There will be no special session called by the Governor and in the January regular session Keller and Medina may find little empathy from legislators around the state. Sad to say but many of them have given up on Albuquerque. 

SEE ANYTHING?

Not to dump on Chief Medina, a well-meaning professional who is tasked with an enormous responsibility, but the release of this photograph of the vehicle possibly involved in the road rage shooting that claimed the life of 11 year old Froylan Villegas near Isotopes stadium and that pushed the Governor to issue her gun ban does not seem at all helpful. 

The blurred pic is said to be that of a black Dodge. But who could possibly tell? What information is in that photo that the public could act on to help which is the point of releasing the photo? Why release it at all? Can't we do better? 

THE BOTTOM LINES

We mentioned Tuesday that five conservative Dem state House members wrote to MLG to tell her of their disagreement with the gun ban. There is a sixth we did not mention---Dem Rep. Tara Jaramillo. . .

They're working your Blogger pretty good this week. I want to thank those who have helped from behind the scenes (you know who you are) with these comprehensive reports on major breaking news. They are longtime, trusted sources and political analysts who rarely miss a beat and who make us look good. (Hey, we're good but not that good). 

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 2023

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Practical Political Impact Of MLG Gun Ban; No Impeachment But Poll Numbers Could Take Hit; Rep. Vasquez Has A Decision To Make; Heinrich Backs Away From Guv As Do Six Dem Conservative House Reps; MLG Hits Back After Sheriff Allen Disagrees, And Mayor Keller's Political Peril Rises 

Old Town Protest (Gutierrez, Journal)
What are the practical political implications of Gov. Lujan Grisham's unexpected 30 day ban on carrying guns in public in Bernalillo County? Let's take a look. 

--First, she will not be impeached, a fanciful notion from the radical right. The Democrats are firmly in control of both chambers of the Legislature and are not about to vote for an impeachment resolution. The resolution being put forth in the House amounts to the same political posturing that the sponsors accuse the Governor of engaging in with her unenforceable gun ban. (By the way, no Governor in state history has been impeached.)

--The race for the southern congressional seat is in the line of fire over the gun ban. Republican Yvette Herrell is pressing freshman Dem US Rep. Gabe Vasquez for a statement on MLG's controversial order but like most prominent Dems not in law enforcement he is remaining mum. The national GOP is also putting the heat on:  

Since coming to D.C. Gabe Vasquez has aligned himself with the extreme Left on a number of issues, the latest of which is this gun ban. Vasquez cannot ignore a violation of the Constitution and expect New Mexicans to accept his silence.”

If he does respond Vasquez will probably break with the Governor in the swing district. Herrell can continue to make hay over it but will the gun ban matter a year from now? That's the unanswered question. 

ALLEN AND SAM

Dem BernCo Sheriff John Allen held a news conference Monday where he ran
further away from MLG. He was elected in 2022 and does not stand for re-election until 2026 but he is a darling of the progressive left and can ill-afford to encourage a Republican or a conservative Democratic challenger.   

Ditto for BernCo District Attorney Sam Bregman who also firmly broke with the Governor, even though she appointed him to the post that he is seeking election to next year. 

As out of fashion as the Republicans are, the two races where they have potential to remain relevant are Sheriff and DA. That's because the party's traditional tough on crime platform will have more appeal if the crime crisis persists. Bregman and Allen are well aware. The good news for them is a weak GOP bench. There doesn't seem to be anyone on it to run against the two Dems. 

MLG HITS BACK 

MLG is fighting back against her gun ban critics on social media and Sheriff Allen got a taste of it after he rejected her plan:

I don’t need a lecture on constitutionality from Sheriff Allen: what I need is action. What we need is for leaders to stand up for the victims of violent crime. We need law enforcement, district attorneys, public officials, school leaders and state agencies to use every single tool at their disposal to stop this violence. Period.

MORE DEM DIVISION

More division with the Dem Party as six conservative House Dems came out against the ban, although the rest of the House Dem caucus has been quiet. The four foes of the ban are State Reps. Joseph Sanchez, Ambrose Castellano, Harry Garcia, Patty Lundstrom,Tara Jaramillo and Willie Madrid. They said in a letter to the Governor:

We concur with law enforcement leaders that these executive orders violate law-abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights and would require law enforcement officers to infringe upon these rights, which could expose officers, police agencies, and communities to civil litigation. We agree that the Governor does not have the authority to disregard both the New Mexico Constitution and the US Constitution.

MLG POLLING

MLG's latest approval rating was at 47 percent, slipping below the key 50 percent mark. Most analysts think the gun ban could have her dipping more. She's energized her GOP opposition and may have alienated some conservative Dems and independents who have been supporters. But it's not as if her views on guns were not well-known. A polling collapse does not seem in the cards but more of the traditional second term drip, drip drip.

MARTINEZ AND HEINRICH

Former GOP Gov. Susana Martinez has been quiet about her successor but did take to social media to blast MLG over the gun order, renewing speculation that she might try to resuscitate her dormant career by getting in the US Senate race against Dem Martin Heinrich. But Heinrich, an avid hunter, has less to fear than most Dems. Also, there is the Martinez record as Governor waiting to be hurled back at her with a couple of million dollars in paid ads. 

Still, Heinrich made sure to back away from the ban even if it was a milquetoast rebuff of the Guv's plan as he worked to avoid alienating progressives who support the Guv: 

The gun violence in New Mexico and across our country has had devastating impacts on families, communities, and our sense of safety. It's why I led the effort on the first federal gun reform law passed in nearly three decades. There is more that can and should be done to stem the violence and ensure every American can feel safe at school, at the grocery store, or at the movie theatre. As we do that work, we need to focus on solutions that are constitutional and enforceable.

Dem state Senator Joe Cervantes, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was one of the few Dem legislators to publicly criticize MLG's gun ban, saying on X:

Having passed key gun safety laws working with her administration, I call on the Governor to rescind her order outlawing arms. An unconstitutional approach undermines the important collaboration gun issues deserve, and the important role of a Governor to lead genuine reforms.

Cervantes may not have to wait long for the gun ban to be rescinded or delayed. Various lawsuits have been filed to do so and legal experts give them a good chance of succeeding. 

CITY ELECTION IMPACT

Councilor Bassan
--The most immediate politicking over the gun ban could come in the November 7 city election
where four of the nine council seats are up for election but the field of candidates--with the exception of Republican Councilor Brook Bassan--are unknown and have set off no sparks. Bassan has a progressive Dem opponent--attorney Abby Foster--in her swing District 4 in the NE Heights. MLG's gun baN could help Bassan energize the GOP base. There doesn't seem much upside for Foster who will continue to hammer Bassan as a flip flopper. 

--For ABQ Mayor Tim Keller the murder of the 11 year old boy in an apparent road rage incident near Isotopes Park is the latest in a long line of horrible crime tragedies that have haunted him since he took office in December 2017. The MLG gun ban makes ABQ appear even less safe to out of state business looking to relocate and to others eyeing a move to the metro. 

Keller's team keeps saying there  is "noone else" and that he will win a third term in 2025. But if ABQ kids continue to be killed in the streets and their homes that narrative will be seriously at risk, if it isn't already. 

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 2023

Monday, September 11, 2023

MLG Makes Grand Gesture With Contentious Gun Ban, But The Backfire Drowns Her Out; Dem Lawmen Flee From Her Order; Ban Raises More Questions On Quelling ABQ Violence, Plus: White House Apologizes For Error In Statement On Richardson Death; It's The Big Monday Blog  

MLG & APD Chief Medina (Moore, Journal)
It was quite the spectacle late Friday when MLG announced a suspension of the right to publicly carry firearms in ABQ and Bernalillo County for 30 days. 

No sooner had she issued the emergency public health order than she expressed doubts about its constitutionality and enforceability. It was like watching someone build a bridge and then immediately blowing it up. 

(Public health order here. News release here. Full news conference video here.)

The Governor's grand gesture was welcome as an expression of outrage over the latest spate of shocking city violence--a road rage shooting death of an 11 year old boy after the Isotopes baseball game and the August murder of a 5 year old Westside girl by teens engaged in a shooting spree outside her home. But, politically, she jumped the shark and the backfire has only just begun.

Few politicians have the bona fides MLG does on gun control. She's been there since the beginning but this time the broad brush she used chased away law enforcement (BernCo DA Bregman, APD Chief Medina, BernCo Sheriff Allen) who would normally have her back.

Late Sunday our sources reported that members of the state House Dem caucus have decided to stay mum on the Guv's order. The House GOP is pursuing a lawsuit against the order. 

As with Covid, her critics say the order revealed a dictatorial tendency that slowly simmers within her, just below the smiling surface. They dismissed the gun ban, saying MLG basically admitted her order was wide of the mark and will do little, if anything, to interrupt the murderous atmosphere in ABQ fueled by a nonstop flow of fentanyl that is eagerly awaited by cartel-supplied drug dealers and desperate addicts. (Never mind the tongue-lashing MLG received from critic-in-chief Elon Musk)

Of course, there was another shooting murder only hours after MLG's announced gun ban, prompting one cynic to declare, "guess the criminals didn't get her memo."

The rage on social media over the order was palpable and some landed in our email:

Why isn't MLG organizing some sort of manhunt for the thug punks who killed this 11-year-old? Why is her focus on suspending the Constitution (which she doesn't have the power to do), but she's not using the state police to track down these murdering thugs? Tells you everything you need to know about the real target. She won't go after the thugs because it's easier to go after law-abiding citizens. They expect us to submit to authority. They know from experience the thugs won't. 

RAISING QUESTIONS

The ban drew widespread national attention and raised more questions about subduing the crime wave: 

So if teens with guns is the problem--and it is--why not target them--rather than the entire gun-toting population? 

If fentanyl is the forerunner to the unacceptable violence, where is the administration's sweeping behavioral health plan? A county-by-county case study of behavioral health offerings and then a plan to rebuild the system would find widespread support. But the years tick by and still we hear the addicts, their relatives and crime victims justifiably complain that "there aren't enough beds" for the drug and alcohol addicted. In a state with billions in excess revenue that should be viewed as outlandish. Here's a slogan for the administration: "Anyone who wants a bed, gets a bed."

If we're creating more criminals from youth suffering trauma at home, fix CYFD--not rearrange the chairs over there. Trauma has been found to be the root cause of disruptive behaviors later in life. In New Mexico child abuse has been a national scandal. A new and improved CYFD is essential to disputing the cycle but serious reform has been bogged down by administration resistance and a turf battle with the attorney general. 

If, as the Governor says, the US Attorney General is ignoring her pleas to deploy more federal agents in the state, where is the announcement that political pressure will be applied by the state's congressional delegation? After all, Sen. Martin Heinrich has--somewhat prematurely--expressed his interest in succeeding MLG. Does he have any stuff to show us amid the horrid murders that are now becoming normalized? He and the rest of the delegation have the power of the purse. Have them use it. 

And, as retired APD sergeant and crime watcher Dan Klein says: 

Pressure the Department of Justice to bring RICO cases against those who support the cartels (money laundering for example). These cartels exist due to large money backers who create legal businesses that cartel money is laundered through. Go after these people. The FBI and USA should not do press releases about seizing 500,000 fentanyl pills. That is just a drop of water in the pool. What they should be doing are news conferences in front of strip malls and businesses that are owned by or supported by the cartels and announcing that they are seizing all the assets. That is how you hurt them.

There is still hope that ABQ's violent streak can be curbed but frustration is now turning to grasping at straws. Real change requires a determined strategy and meaningful action that goes beyond the Governor's grand but ultimately feckless gesture.  

SAM'S RUN

She may have appointed him but BernCo District Attorney Sam Bregman is running for election next year with a new black hat and a tough on crime platform. He ran faster than his son Alex Bregman stealing third base when the Governor unveiled her controversial gun ban. In a brief statement the DA said: "As an officer of the court, I cannot enforce something that I do not believe is constitutional."   Any questions?

KELLER AND MEDINA

ABQ Mayor Keller and APD Chief Medina were indeed "thrown under the bus" as some Republicans gleefully asserted in the aftermath of that MLG news conference. The two city leaders said the gun ban will be enforced by state police not local law enforcement. That had the hecklers cackling that not enforcing the laws is par for the course for Medina and APD.

Chief Medina sat next to the Governor at the news conference. He looked sadder than Zozobra just before the match is lit. The painful murders of the children are a disaster for him and his department. We predict his tenure will end soon. As for Keller, the tire tracks from getting thrown under the bus by MLG are going to be hard to wash off. 

The Democratic Party with MLG, Heinrich, Torrez, Haaland and Keller vying for control is in for some turbulent times as the party starts to split apart on the crime crisis.

ABOUT THAT LAW

As a Assistant General Counsel for the NM Department of Health Santa Fe attorney Cliff Rees had a major hand in drafting the 2003 law that MLG invoked to ban the carrying of firearms openly or concealed in ABQ and Bernalillo County Some thoughts from him:

The NM Public Health Emergency Response Act defines a "public health emergency" in New Mexico as "the occurrence or imminent threat of exposure to an extremely dangerous condition . . . that poses an imminent threat of substantial harm to the population of New Mexico or any portion thereof;" (Section 12-10A-3.G. NMSA 1978). Public Health Orders under the PHERA terminate automatically after thirty days unless renewed by the Governor after consultation with the Secretary of the NM Department of Health [Section 12-10A-5.D. (2) NMSA 1978]. 

Shouldn't New Mexico be using our overflowing public coffers thanks to the gusher of oil and gas revenues to fund free substance abuse treatment, both outpatient and residential, no questions asked, to address the root of the violence here and across the country? Along with substance treatment, we also need to invest in affordable housing and job training to solve this problem. Public health experts refer to this as addressing the problem "upstream" rather than waiting for the casualties to appear "downstream". Reasonable regulation of the sale and possession of guns is also needed. I expect the Second Amendment advocates will be in Federal District Court in Albuquerque before the ink is dry on the Governor's Public Health Orders seeking a Temporary Restraining Order against all or part of the Governor's measures.

WHITE HOUSE APOLOGY 

Karin Jean-Pierre
The White House has apologized for a rare press office error made when giving President Biden's reaction to the passing of former Gov. Bill Richardson. 

We reported here exclusively the error made in the first official statement which said that the President extended his condolences to Richardson's wife Barbara and "daughter Heather." Trouble is there is no daughter Heather nor any other daughter that anyone is aware of. 

CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Weija Jiang last week asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the mistake in the White House statement. Here's the video of the White House press briefing with the Richardson issue starting at 23:15:          

Q: I have a question about fact-checking here at the White House. The initial statement from the President about the passing of Gov. Bill Richardson included condolences for his wife of 50 years, Barbara, and their daughter Heather. That line about Heather the daughter has been removed. He didn't  have a daughter named Heather--or daughter. So could you walk us through how these press releases are fact-checked, who signs off on them in the end and then in this case how this error was made?

Weija Jiang
A: So look. We apologize for the error. Certainly. That is not. . .something. . .we want to do. Right? We went to make sure that we get this information out clearly and in a straight forward way to the American people. So that was not done intentionally. . . 

When we realized that error it was removed from the website. We do have fact checkers here. We do have multiple people who take a look at the press releases especially from the President. This was just a miss, unfortunately, and we apologize for that miss. . .Again, as soon as we realized it we removed it from the website. . . I just want to reiterate our condolences to the families. . . Bill Richardson was a friend to the President and so again we apologize for that error. Certainly that is not something we want to see happen. It is not a common occurrence. . . that happens from this White House. 

Q: Has the source of the error been identified and dealt with to prevent it from happening again? 

A: We will do our best. . to make sure that doesn't happen again. Again, it was an error. We apologized. I apologized just now. . .and we certainly removed that. . .the moment we realized that error was made.

Sure, an error like this is not not the end of the world but glad to have this piece of NM history on the record correctly and not have the White House spin out of it. There was speculation that the error may have arisen when a staffer took the erroneous information from a random website which is not the way to get "information out clearly. . to the American people." The White House did not say how the error occurred. 

Richardson will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. A funeral mass will be held at 11 A.M. Thursday. Both are open to the public. 

THE BOTTOM LINES

One of the first candidate forums for the November 7 ABQ election happens today:

Indivisible Albuquerque will meet on Monday, September 11, at 5:30 pm at O'Niell's, 4310 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108. Doors open at 5:00 pm. You can also join via Zoom. Our meeting will feature a candidate forum for City Council District 6. The candidates are Abel Otero, Jeff Hoehn,  Kristin Greene and Nichole Rogers.

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