Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Longtime BernCo Manager Hangs It Up; Her Hits And Misses, Plus: Dems Try Guilt By Association to Get Nella To Talk Abortion, And: Anti-Semitic Trope? Readers Come With More On Columnist's Remarks  

Quezada & Morgas Baca
Nine year Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca had her praises sung by the County Commission as she announced Monday that she will resign her $215,000 a year job at the end of June even though her current contact runs until October 2025. She said she has worked in the public sector 33 years.

Commissioner Michael Quezada, who will leave the commission at the end of this year after serving two terms, said of the manager:

(She achieved) significant milestones including extensive infrastructure projects throughout (Quezada's) District 2, the purchase of Anderson Farms for open space, her leadership during COVID, her oversight of Behavioral Health and her excellent financial administration of the budget.

Quezada was mostly right but the behavioral health praise is premature. In 2015 the county enacted a behavioral health tax that brings in $20 million a year but has no landmark achievements to show for it.

In fact, its been somewhat maddening to hear the county continually assert that great advances have been made with those funds. At best that is disingenous. 

As seen here, clearly taxpayers have not been getting what they hoped for when approving that tax.

Manager Baca and the commission continued to fall behind the curve in administering $200 million in funds from the tax as the homeless and mental health crisis compounded. Their efforts seemed scattershot although in recent months after some new commissioners came on board and much public and legislative pressure there does seem to be a more concerted effort.

There also has been much turmoil under Baca's watch at the Bernalillo County Youth Detention Center where a Christmas Day "disturbance" by teens housed there brought to light management problems which are now the subject of improvements. 

Ditto for the Bernallio County Metropolitan Detention Center, beset by personnel upheavals and an increase in inmate deaths, mostly due to prisoners detoxing from drugs. 

In fairness to Baca trouble in jails is not unusual and has been particularly intense around the nation since covid. 

Also, the county did recently announce that it will be putting $3 million in behavioral health funds into the city's Gateway Center for the homeless.

The County erred when it nixed the idea of building a new office building and instead spent what a new facility would cost on renovating the old Alvarado Square downtown. But Baca's management skills did see it through. 

The county will soon have a new manager who will be grappling with the same sticky social issues that have challenged Baca and her contemporaries.


Domenici & Johnson
The state Democratic Party is getting increasingly irritated by the silence of GOP US Senate candidate Nella Domenici but in doing so they appear to be getting ahead of themselves as they try to make her guilty by association. Take a look:

In 2022, Nella donated the maximum amount allowed under federal law to Yvette Herrell’s congressional and David McCormick’s U.S. Senate campaigns. Both candidates are strong supporters of the notion that “life begins at conception.” Herrell even championed the Life at Conception Act, which aimed to ban all abortions. . .Just last week, Nella spoke at an event hosted by Kurstin Johnson, a GOP candidate for the State Senate in Albuquerque. During an unsuccessful campaign for the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2022, Johnson’s campaign largely focused on supporting a 15-week abortion ban. 

The Dems would love nothing more than to pigeon hole Domenici and with good reason. If "No-Answer Nella," as the Dems have taken to calling her, comes with something unexpected on her abortion position it could upend the campaign against Dem US Sen. Martin Heinrich. 

With no GOP primary opposition the Dems are going to have to wait to hear exactly where Domenici stands instead of channeling Yvette Herrell and Kurstin Johnson to deduce her position.  

Let's hope Chair Jessica Velasquez doesn't tear her hair out by the time that comes around.


Sometimes the mail begets a lot more mail. Such is the case with our blogging last Thursday on columnist Tom Wright's comments on a trio of billionaires--Soros, Zuckerberg and Bloomberg--who often support progressive causes and also happen to be Jewish. To the email bag and conservative reader Jim McClure: 

Joe, it’s good to see that people in New Mexico are on the lookout for anti-Semitism, even the inadvertent kind. I’m surprised the folks who are calling out the criticism of wealthy Dem donors have been silent about Meow Wolf’s abrupt cancellation of a Jewish rapper’s show or the folks who demonstrated outside a Jerry Seinfeld show. Is anti-Semitism only a problem when conservatives are behind it? 

Another reader says the anti-Semitic meme is being overplayed: 

Joe, I found it interesting that some readers found reporting of the influence that Soros, Zuckerberg, and Bloomberg have on our politics to be a form of anti-Semitism. I feel this meme is being overplayed and used as a diversion to have the public look the other way from the reality that these people, regardless of their religious affiliation, truly have an undue influence on our legislation. I am concerned about that very influence and am grateful it is being reported and not swept under the rug.            

Larry Gioannini writes from Las Cruces:

Of the three people mentioned Soros is probably the most progressive. Zuckerberg is not a progressive and Bloomberg is a sometimes progressive. More interesting is that one of the new owners of the Rio Grande Sun where Wright's remarks were published is former NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. and other high ranking New Mexican Republicans. 

Reader Mitchell Freedman wrties from Rio Rancho:

Where is the real evidence for the statement the right-winger makes? Next time, just ask where and how often Zuckerberg, Soros, or Bloomberg are investing in our local races and whether they make any difference. I don't see it, and being on the State Democratic Party's Central Committee, and being in meetings and such, I have never seen it. 

If one looks at the influence of right-wing billionaires who funded Moms for Liberty and a host of other astroturf groups that is where influence really goes on. Regular folks get plucked up and promoted in a way that a progressive could only dream about--with no vetting as to whether, for example, they like threesomes when they are railing publicly against homosexuality or trans people. :) 

 Oh well. Thank you for publishing this because I have long heard this among right wingers in NM. Z, S, and B are their "lions and tigers and bears" except Dorothy and their friends probably had more realistic bases for those fears.

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