Politics And News

Sunday 07/20/2014
Ringside Seat: Hope, if not work, found at ‘Survival Corner’

A white Ram pickup with enough cargo space for a dozen passengers created a moment of hope on what some call Survival Corner.

As the driver eased to the crossroads of Guadalupe and Agua Fría streets one cool morning, 20 men in grimy work clothes hustled to form a crooked line. Nearly all were disappointed when the truck pulled away a minute later.

The driver hired just one man, leaving all the other day laborers to stand and wait for the next prospect.

Posted in Politics and news, Local news, Local columns on Sunday, July 20, 2014 10:00 pm. Updated: 2:31 pm. | Tags: Milan Simonich , Ringside Seat , Comments (12)

Wednesday 07/16/2014
Rep. Pearce: Most fled Central America for economic reasons

Clarification appended

Congressman Steve Pearce said Wednesday that most immigrants from Central America who are crossing illegally into the United States are driven by economic reasons, not fear of physical danger in their homeland.

Pearce, R-Hobbs, said he was part of a seven-member working group from the U.S. House of Representatives that visited Guatemala and Honduras over the weekend.

Posted in Politics and news on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:40 pm. Updated: 5:52 pm. Comments (5)

Sunday 07/13/2014
Park name strikes sore spot in border town

Hollywood portrayed Bonnie and Clyde as glamorous, misunderstood killers. Tabloids treated mob boss John Gotti as a celebrity.

Richard Dean says the state of New Mexico did something even worse by elevating Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa from international terrorist to folk hero.

A state park near Columbus carries Villa’s name. Dean considers this tantamount to naming Ground Zero in New York City after Osama bin Laden, or placing a monument at Pearl Harbor to the Japanese pilots who bombed the American naval base.

Posted in Politics and news, Local news, Local columns on Sunday, July 13, 2014 9:30 pm. Updated: 5:54 pm. | Tags: Milan Simonich , Ringside Seat , Pancho Villa , Richard Dean , Columbus , Columbus New Mexico Comments (11)

10 questions with Fred Harris

At 83, Fred Harris remains one of the Southwest's most notable political figures.

Fifty years ago, Harris defeated iconic football coach Bud Wilkinson for a seat in the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma. Wilkinson, who became a Republican in time for the election, was revered in Oklahoma for turning the Sooners into a national power. He once won 47 games in succession, an NCAA record. But Democrat Harris made sure that celebrity candidate Wilkinson had no winning streak in politics.

Harris' slogan in the Senate race was "prepared for the job." In contrast, Wilkinson had little understanding of government, Harris said.

Posted in Politics and news on Sunday, July 13, 2014 3:24 am. Updated: 4:35 am. Comments (0)

Monday 06/30/2014
Raids that brought Gary King publicity may backfire

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and her Democratic challenger, Gary King, both say they are committed to openness in government. Yet both have been sued by critics who allege that they refused to release emails pertaining to the public’s business.

Allegations of unwarranted secrecy are about to get worse for King, the state attorney general, who is supposed to enforce New Mexico’s public records law. An old case against him regarding controversial cockfighting raids has come home to roost.

In 2009, Marcy Britton of Albuquerque sought all emails pertaining to King and his Animal Cruelty Task Force. This month, after nearly five years of legal wrangling, King’s office released about 24,000 of the emails that Britton’s attorney requested.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, June 30, 2014 9:17 am. Updated: 9:42 am. Comments (0)

Wednesday 06/25/2014
Rep. Mary Helen Garcia's lawyers withdraw from election challenge

First state Rep. Mary Helen Garcia lost her primary election.

Now she stands to lose the attorneys representing her in a lawsuit claiming that fraud cost her the race.

They want to quit, citing irreconcilable difference with Garcia, D-Las Cruces. "The attorney-client relationship has deteriorated to a level where counsel cannot communicate with their client adequately nor effectively represent their client."

Posted in Politics and news on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 5:32 pm. Updated: 6:00 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 06/24/2014
Trial date set in Rep. Mary Helen Garcia's suit alleging she lost because of fraud

State Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, beaten in the primary three weeks ago, will get a trial on her allegations that the election was tainted by fraud.

Garcia, D-Las Cruces, lost by 16 votes to Bealquin Gomez, 410 to 394. A third candidate, Christian Lira, received 52 votes.

In a lawsuit challenging the results, Garcia alleges at least 17 instances in which signatures by voters on absentee ballots did not match the signatures on their registration forms. She said her claim was based on findings by a forensic handwriting analyst.

Posted in Politics and news, Elections 2014 on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:09 pm. Updated: 2:33 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 06/23/2014
Owner's self-interest is dagger that will kill name Redskins

What easy marks team owner Daniel Snyder and his Washington Redskins are for all those somber politicians.

Like hounds to the chase, senators, congressmen and council members were all over Snyder again last week after a government agency canceled the Redskins’ trademark on grounds that it is derogatory. Snyder will appeal, and the team’s name will live on a while longer, until his own business interests force him to change it.

Pressuring Snyder to junk the name provides the perfect soundbite for officeholders from New Mexico to New York. It is simple and politically expedient for them to climb aboard the crowded bandwagon to denounce Snyder for maintaining a team name that is objectionable to many, particularly in the Southwest.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, June 23, 2014 2:21 am. Updated: 2:23 am. Comments (0)

Tuesday 06/17/2014
More fallout from Gary King's 'demand' of equal pay for women

Democrat Gary King tried to make equal pay for women an issue in his gubernatorial campaign, but it continues to be a sore spot for many who know him well.

Lesley Lowe is one of the three female attorneys who sued King for employment discrimination during his second term as state attorney general.

Lowe alleged that King paid her less than male attorneys with a fraction of her experience. She lost her case last year in a summary judgment, but still maintains that the evidence was on her side.

Posted in Politics and news on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 9:06 am. Updated: 9:32 am. Comments (1)

Monday 06/16/2014
Bakery owner sandbagged by governor's publicists

Juan Garcia and his dad, Pedro, own a busy bakery in Las Vegas, N.M. They believe in hard work, making good food and providing excellent service to their customers.

The Garcias don’t talk about politics at their bakery, but they are proud, lifelong Republicans. Knowing this, Gov. Susana Martinez’s campaign staff asked Juan Garcia if he would publicly endorse her re-election bid.

He agreed, but now he says Martinez’s camp fabricated the quotes it attributed to him in an email distributed across the state.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, June 16, 2014 9:31 am. Updated: 9:32 am. Comments (0)

Saturday 06/14/2014
Chuck Noll, underrated but extraordinary

Chuck Noll may have been the best football coach ever. Without question, he is the most underrated.

Noll, who died Friday night at age 82, is rarely mentioned in conversations about the great coaches in the National Football League.

Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Bill Walsh and Bill Belichick get more attention, even though Noll won more Super Bowls than each of them.

Posted in Politics and news on Saturday, June 14, 2014 10:08 pm. Updated: 10:10 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 06/09/2014
Governor's race is shrill, but nothing to shout about

New Mexico’s campaign for governor still has five months to go, but already we’ve had a bellyful of bragging and blaming.

It’s too bad that both contenders are in the business of salesmanship instead of statesmanship. They claim to be different, yet their shared tactic is to take credit for doing ordinary work and to blame the other side for whatever is wrong.

Gov. Susana Martinez, the Republican nominee, patted herself on the back because she said she inherited “the largest deficit in history” and then fixed it. Gary King, the Democrat challenging Martinez, resorts to guttersnipe language when railing about her performance and the sorry state New Mexico is in.

Posted in Politics and news, Elections 2014 on Monday, June 9, 2014 10:02 am. Updated: 3:50 pm. Comments (0)

Wednesday 06/04/2014
Wertheim waves a sullied white flag

What a turnabout on the morning after a nasty election.

The Democratic primary campaign for state treasurer went from wrestling match to civility brigade in a matter of 12 hours.

John Wertheim, the losing candidate, pledged his support Wednesday to nominee Tim Eichenberg. This is the same Wertheim who spent weeks accusing Eichenberg  of bigotry against gays, women and Hispanics.

Posted in Politics and news on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 12:09 pm. Updated: 1:02 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 06/03/2014
Election watch: Will negative onslaught lift Wertheim to victory?

Oddly enough, the Democratic race for state treasurer was the most negative of the primary election.

John Wertheim, an attorney, used attack ads during the final two weeks of his campaign against Tim Eichenberg.

The basic rule on attacks is that they will not work in hometown races, where voters are likely to know the candidate who's under siege and sympathize with him. Going negative is much more common in state and national races.

Posted in Politics and news on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 3:38 pm. Updated: 3:56 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 06/02/2014
Why 8 lawmakers believe the high cost of prisons can be reduced

He calls his one-man law practice MoeJustice, a mix of old-fashioned idealism and modern marketing.

State Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas says all of New Mexico needs more justice, too. He and seven other legislators, four from each major political party, have joined together in hopes of creating a less expensive legal system, one that would be smarter in dealing with crime and punishment.

Maestas, D-Albuquerque, says a cold killer convicted of second-degree murder faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. But a drug seller convicted of a second offense gets a mandatory prison term of 18 years.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, June 2, 2014 9:08 am. Updated: 9:13 am. Comments (0)

Wednesday 05/28/2014
NM Democratic chairman lashes Wertheim

John Wertheim, a Democratic candidate for state treasurer, has alienated a lot of people with his negative campaign to get the party nomination.

Chief among them is Sam Bregman, state chairman of the Democratic Party. Bregman did not name names in a letter he sent Wednesday, but he criticized Wertheim's attacks on Democratic treasurer candidate Tim Eichenberg.

Wertheim has purchased ads accusing Eichenberg of bigotry. Here is Bregman's response:

Posted in Politics and news on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:12 am. Updated: 11:23 am. Comments (1)

Monday 05/26/2014
After 42 years in office, is state lawmaker over the hill?

The riskiest political advertisement of this campaign season could be called Dead Man Running.

State legislative candidate Bengie Regensberg mailed out an ad saying his opponent “at almost 90 years old” is apt to die in office. If that happened, Regensberg said, the governor would have to appoint a replacement, and voters would not get a chance to choose their representative until 2016.

The doomsday ad was aimed at Rep. Nick Salazar, who actually is just 85. Salazar has been a member of the state House of Representatives for 42 years, making him New Mexico’s most experienced lawmaker and one of the longest-serving state legislators in the country.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, May 26, 2014 8:24 am. Updated: 8:26 am. Comments (0)

Friday 05/23/2014
State treasurer candidate Eichenberg counterpunches

Tim Eichenberg has been the target of attack ads before, so he was ready to fire back at his opponent in the Democratic primary race for state treasurer.

Wertheim recently sent out mailers accusing Eichenberg of discriminating against Hispanics, women and same-sex couples. Some of these allegations first were made in 2008 by Republican H. Diane Snyder. Eichenberg ousted her from the state Senate six years ago. Some of the charges she made against him have been revived by Wertheim.

In one ad, Wertheim used a photo of an Hispanic woman, implying that she was someone who had difficulties with Eichenberg. In fact, the woman was a model who became the face of allegations that she knew nothing about.

Posted in Politics and news on Friday, May 23, 2014 11:34 am. Updated: 12:03 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 05/19/2014
One company fared well amid gridlock at state bargaining table

What if you spent at least $125 an hour for a labor negotiator who billed you for two years but never settled any contract disputes?

You would be a New Mexico taxpayer.

Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration hired an Albuquerque company, Management Associates Inc., to head the state’s negotiating team in contract talks with employee unions.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, May 19, 2014 10:39 am. Updated: 10:43 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 05/15/2014
Rep. Miguel Garcia may be damaged beyond repair

State Rep. Miguel Garcia turned out to be everything he said he detested.

Garcia, D-Albuquerque, once gave a long, impassioned speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in which he said racism was still alive and dangerous. Then he read a letter from an anonymous man who threatened Garcia because of his support for a law that enables people without proof of immigration status to obtain New Mexico driver's licenses.

But when it came to politicking, Garcia never hesitated to resort to stereotypes, race and racial divides in hopes of getting his candidates elected.

Posted in Politics and news on Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:29 am. Updated: 3:09 pm. Comments (1)

Wednesday 05/14/2014
3 state legislators sue over Navajo water settlement

Three New Mexico lawmakers on Wednesday filed a lawsuit asking that the state Supreme Court require legislative approval of the Navajo water settlement.

Former governor Bill Richardson negotiated the settlement with the tribe. Richardson signed the state-tribal water compact with the Navajo Nation in December 2010, less than a month before he left office.

Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Nambé, said the sweeping agreement should be subject to review and possible revisions by the state Legislature. The case has broad implications over whether a governor and a sovereign tribe can bypass the Legislature and simply enter into an agreement, Trujillo said.

Trujillo, who spoke at a news conference at the state Capitol, is one of the lawmakers asking the Supreme Court to order a legislative review of the settlement. Joining him in the lawsuit are Sen. Steve Neville and Rep. Paul Bandy, both Republicans from Aztec, and Jim Rogers, a resident of San Juan County.

“The concern is that taxpayers are being asked to pay a big tab without the constitutional process of funding authorized by the Legislature and signed by the governor,” Bandy said in a statement.

He said Richardson circumvented the typical process of representative government by obligating New Mexico to a settlement and its costs without the Legislature’s consent.

The settlement, say the legislators, imposes requirements on water users in the San Juan Basin, as well as those who rely on water flows through the San Juan/Chama diversion.

Posted in Politics and news on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 1:13 pm. Updated: 1:14 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 05/12/2014
He works when he can, panhandles when he must

Not many panhandlers pass out business cards. Bohdan Sywanyk is the exception.

“Bodie The Handyman” is the name on his card. It contains the number to his mobile phone and a black-and-gray caricature of a rawboned, bespectacled man holding a hammer.

Sywanyk has no luxuries in his life, and that includes his cellphone. He gets around Santa Fe on his bicycle, spends his nights in shelters or on friends’ couches, and stores his tools with a buddy.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, May 12, 2014 9:16 am. Updated: 9:18 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 05/08/2014
Long-shot call for a special session

State Sen. Tim Keller wants a special legislative session. He says the governor should call New Mexico's 112 lawmakers back to Santa Fe to tackle the great issues of the day.

“I write you today to ask for your help and in the hopes of working collaboratively in moving the needle on longstanding problems holding our state back,” Keller, D-Albuquerque, stated in a letter to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. “I know we do not always agree on the policy, but I think we can agree on the urgency for unique New Mexico solutions to the problems facing our state...I request your consideration of a potential summer special session, a ‘Summit on New Mexico’s Future.’ ”

Martinez, in her fourth year in office, has called only one special session, and she had to do it. That was in 2011, when legislators voted on redistricting following the U.S. census.

Posted in Politics and news on Thursday, May 8, 2014 9:55 am. Updated: 10:34 am. Comments (0)

Tuesday 05/06/2014
The bragging game — Webber omits key detail on education endorsement

Alan Webber, one of five Democrats competing for the gubernatorial nomination, sent out a fundraising letter Tuesday that charitably would be called misleading.

"Today, the National Education Association (NEA-NM) endorsed me for governor," Webber stated in his solicitation for money. His email arrived at 5:08 a.m., so the day appeared to be off to a smashing start for Webber.

Soon after, NEA told a different, more complete story in a handout of its own.

Posted in Politics and news on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 9:32 am. Updated: 4:59 pm. Comments (1)

Monday 05/05/2014
More cash, extra protection for 1 in state insurance office

Even in these hard times, when raises are out of the question for countless workers, an already well-paid state employee can still get a 10 percent pay increase.

She can even land the higher salary for a job that was never posted, even though the position was changed from exempt status to classified. Classified jobs typically are opened to competition so the state can advertise for a pool of applicants and then hire the best one.

The woman who received the good fortune of a raise and protection as a classified employee is Jolene Gonzales, 44, who works in the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. This agency regulates the insurance industry in New Mexico.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, May 5, 2014 8:58 am. Updated: 9:08 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 05/01/2014
Governor tried to stop ad critical of her

Gov. Susana Martinez and her lawyers wanted to stop an ad critical of her from airing in the Albuquerque television market.

The ad features a young Hispanic woman (attorney Oriana Sandoval), who says: "Behind closed doors, Susana Martinez played along when her staff laughed and shamed Spanish-speaking families, like mine. Caught on tape, she refuses to apologize."


Posted in Politics and news on Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:37 pm. Updated: 6:13 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 04/29/2014
Udall backs minimum wage of $10.10

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says the federal minimum wage should be $10.10 an hour.

The New Mexico Democrat, seeking re-election this fall, gave a speech on the Senate floor for the Minimum Wage Fairness Act that he is cosponsoring.

He said: "$7.25 may just be a number to some, but not for so many families in my state struggling to get by. It means working two or three jobs just to put food on the table, or fill up the gas tank, or buy clothes for their children, and still not be able to climb out of poverty."

Posted in Politics and news on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 2:44 pm. Updated: 2:56 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 04/28/2014
Some waited 4 hours to vote while armed officers watched

Mariaelena Johnson cannot forget the 2012 election, a chilly night when more than 700 people tried to vote at an understaffed, poorly equipped polling place in the Southern New Mexico town of Chaparral.

As the line of voters grew and grew, community members brought chairs and bottles of water to old people who faced a four-hour wait to cast ballots. Soon after, the election judge from the Otero County Clerk’s Office called the sheriff, reporting that a large, “unruly” crowd had to be brought under control.

Eight sheriff’s deputies descended on the polling place. They put yellow police tape around the building, and the night air turned thick with tension.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, April 28, 2014 8:59 am. Updated: 9:07 am. Comments (1)

Sunday 04/27/2014
The stormy life and lies of Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter

Myths hid the hard truths about Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a onetime middleweight boxing contender who served 18 years in prison after being convicted of a triple murder.

Carter, 76, died last week of prostate cancer, still a folk hero to thousands who believed he overcame runaway racism in America’s courts. That is the legend. Carter’s biography is another story.

His case began when the country was seething with racial divides. Carter was black. The two men and the woman he was accused of murdering in 1966 were white.

Many celebrities and ordinary people assumed that Carter was a victim of racial injustice, and so they lined up to support him. His backers dwindled as they learned more about him, only to be replaced by new ones who blindly accepted what was said about him in popular culture.

Juries twice convicted Carter and a co-defendant, John Artis, of the three murders, committed in a tavern in Paterson, N.J. Judges threw out Carter’s convictions both times because they said he did not receive fair trials. Carter won what proved to be a decisive victory when a federal judge freed him in 1985.

The judge found that prosecutors were guilty of misconduct, and that they had poisoned Carter’s retrial by saying racial revenge had motivated him to kill. With witnesses dead and memories blurred, prosecutors decided not to try Carter a third time.

He re-emerged as a national celebrity in 1999, after Norman Jewison made a deceitful movie about his case called The Hurricane.

Not to be outdone by Hollywood’s excesses, Carter regularly twisted the facts about his arrest and trials. I watched him do this one day while he was basking in glory because of The Hurricane.

Denzel Washington, who portrayed Carter in the movie, had been nominated for an Academy Award as best actor. The movie depicted Carter as a boxer who was robbed of a world championship by racist judges at ringside and later sent to prison by complicit judges in racist courtrooms.

The first lie I heard from Carter was so brazen that I wondered if I had misunderstood him. Speaking at a meeting of the NAACP, Carter said he was tried before all-white juries. But wait. Didn’t two black people serve as jurors in his second trial?

“They were elderly,” Carter said. Then he rushed to answer a softer question.

That was vintage Carter. Caught in a lie about the racial makeup of a jury, he steamrolled ahead with his jaundiced account of a good guy facing evil authoritarians.

In that same speech, Carter told more lies. He said he had passed a polygraph test soon after the murders, but white prosecutors took him to trial anyway.

But police records say that Carter failed the polygraph test. “… It is the opinion of the examiner that [Carter] was attempting deception to all the pertinent questions and [he] was involved in this crime,” states the police report.

Lie-detector tests are imperfect. Guilty people have passed them and innocent people have failed them. But at least some of Carter’s deceptions are obvious because he lied about the polygraph results.

A man named Cal Deal, who built an impressive website about Carter’s case, culled the polygraph records. Deal, a former reporter, believed Carter to be innocent until he started interviewing him in 1975. He said Carter told lie after lie, and Deal became convinced that Carter was guilty as charged.

Two witnesses identified Carter’s vehicle as the getaway car used in the murders. Ten minutes after the slaughter in the tavern, police pulled over Carter’s car. Artis was driving, Carter was lying down in the back seat and a third man was sitting in the front passenger seat.

Police initially let them go because witness accounts from the shootings said that two men committed the murders, then jumped into the getaway car. A car carrying three men seemed, at first glance, not to match up. But anyone who listened to Carter never heard that he was lying in the shadowy back seat of a car that matched the one driven by the killers.

The movie inaccurately described the witnesses’ accounts. Worse, it presented Carter as a fine citizen who was hounded by police because of racial bias.

Omitted from the script was that Carter was separated from the Army for “unfitness” in 1956 after four courts-martial. He went to prison the following year for snatching a woman’s purse and for assaulting two men in different cases. All this occurred before he was 21.

A natural fighter, Carter seemed to turn his life around as a professional boxer. Rippling with muscles, he fought world middleweight champion Joey Giardello in 1964. In the mythology of The Hurricane, Carter gave Giardello a beating, only to be robbed by the judges’ because of racial prejudice.

Offended by the movie’s insinuation that he won the fight because he was white, Giardello sued the filmmakers. They reached an out-of-court settlement but kept the terms secret. What is known is that director Jewison amended his shoddy version of history by adding a mention to the movie DVD attesting to Giardello’s talent in the ring. Even Carter once agreed that Giardello had won their 15-round fight.

Carter benefited mightily from his celebrity status and by the way he was depicted in popular culture. His defenders were emboldened by The Hurricane and by Bob Dylan’s ballad claiming that Carter was railroaded. They will always insist that he was an innocent man, and that he could have been a world champion.

The truth is harsher. Carter had lost seven of his last 15 fights before the murders. He no longer was a contender.

But did he kill three people? We don’t know.

No one can dispute that racial prejudice has tainted many prosecutions. In Carter’s case, though, he convinced thousands that he was a model citizen who was persecuted for no reason except the color of his skin.

Posted in Politics and news on Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:20 am. Updated: 9:07 am. Comments (0)

Saturday 04/26/2014
Trying to stay on ballot, Rep. Jeff brings up race

With her political career hanging in the balance, state Rep. Sandra Jeff says the  New Mexico Supreme Court should reinstate her to protect Navajo voters.

Jeff, D-Crownpoint, failed to file enough valid petition signatures to qualify for the primary election, a state district court judge ruled recently. Now she is asking the five-member Supreme Court to overturn the judge's decision. In a statement, Jeff said her appeal is 42 pages long and raises the issue of tribal disadvantages.

“After considering my arguments and the disenfranchisement of voters in my district as a result of the District Court’s decision, I am hopeful that the New Mexico Supreme Court upholds over 80 years of precedent and allows the voters of House District 5 to nominate and vote for the candidate of their choice,” Jeff said. “This challenge to my nominating petitions is much more than a simple case of counting election signatures and potentially has serious implications for Navajo voters.”

Posted in Politics and news on Saturday, April 26, 2014 12:17 pm. Updated: 2:28 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 04/21/2014
Democrats have 2 candidates for treasurer after Padilla's disqualification

Democrat Patrick Padilla has ended his campaign for state treasurer after a party rival successfully challenged his nominating petitions.

Padilla’s exit from the race leaves two other Democrats in contention for the party’s nomination in the June primary election. They are Tim Eichenberg and John Wertheim. It was Wertheim who sued to knock Padilla off the ballot.

State District Judge Shannon Bacon of Albuquerque ruled last week that Padilla did not file enough valid signatures to qualify for the primary election. Padilla said in an interview Monday that he would not appeal the ruling to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Posted in Politics and news, State on Monday, April 21, 2014 11:24 am. Updated: 7:33 pm. Comments (0)

Toothless citizen commissions cannot supervise police

Three members of Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Commission resigned last week in protest over their lack of power.

It was a good start. Now the taxpaying public should demand that the seats go unfilled and the commission be disbanded altogether.

The three commissioners who quit complained that they couldn’t do their work because Mayor Richard Berry’s legal department obstructed honest investigations of excessive-force complaints or other allegations of police misconduct. They should have realized years ago that they were cogs in a useless bureaucracy, not a unit capable of building a better police department.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, April 21, 2014 8:36 am. Updated: 8:38 am. Comments (1)

Monday 04/14/2014
Española election was imperfect, strange and utlimately fair

When is a tie as good as a win?

In an election where a coin toss to break the deadlock goes your way.

That odd circumstance was Michelle R. Martinez’s gateway to elective office. The quiet candidate with more determination than her opponents could imagine, Martinez received a resounding ovation last week when she finally took her seat on the Española City Council. Hers was an improbable comeback, succeeding amid widespread but unsupported charges of voter fraud.

Posted in Politics and news on Monday, April 14, 2014 6:30 am. Updated: 7:04 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 04/10/2014
5 state agencies have employee vacancy rates exceeding 20%

State prisons have an employee vacancy rate of 21 percent.

The New Mexico Department of Corrections is, in fact, one of five state agencies with a vacancy rate exceeding 20 percent, according to a summary report released Thursday by Legislative Finance Committee.

A total of 2,447 employees are authorized for the Department of Corrections. Based on the vacancy rate, it has about 500 vacant positions.

Posted in Politics and news on Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:52 am. Updated: 12:18 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 04/08/2014
Supreme Court to hear appeal on Rep. Jeff next week

The challenge to state Rep. Sandra Jeff's re-election candidacy will reach the New Mexico Supreme Court on April 16.

One of Jeff's constituents, Larry J. King, filed a lawsuit claiming she did not file enough valid signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary election.

Jeff won in state court in Gallup when District Judge Louis DePauli ruled that she did not receive timely notice of the lawsuit. DePauli dismissed the suit. That meant the merits of King's challenge to Jeff's petitions were never heard in court.

Posted in Politics and news on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:52 am. Updated: 10:30 am. Comments (0)


Behind the beat

Milan Simonich has worked on daily newspapers for 35 years. He grew up in Pueblo, Colo., becoming a reporter and then city editor of his hometown paper, the Pueblo Chieftain.

He went on to work for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Denver Post and other publications. He arrived in New Mexico as Santa Fe bureau chief for a chain of eight publications called Texas-New Mexico Newspapers.

Now he is part of the team covering government, politics and other stories for the New Mexican. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado.

Milan can be reached at msimonich@sfnewmexican.com. His direct line is 505-986-3080. Follow him on Twitter @MilansNMreport.

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