New Mexico, the land of mañana, has no need for deadlines.
Hitting target dates shortens coffee breaks, causes stress-related knuckle-cracking and threatens enchantment-filled 20-hour workweeks.
Even powerful people who are responsible for enforcing deadlines don’t care if they are met.
Consider the conduct of John A. Baca, a Democratic candidate for a Magistrate Court judgeship in Santa Fe.
State law required Baca and all other candidates for public office to report their campaign contributions and expenditures by April 11. Baca finally got around to submitting his report Friday — 18 days after the deadline.
The staff of Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver nonetheless listed Baca as “compliant” with the campaign law.
I asked Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the office, how many candidates besides Baca had flouted the deadline and whether they would be penalized. Mañana ruled the day.
“I’m having our team pull a list of anyone who failed to file and I can get that over to you later,” Curtas wrote in an email. “For anyone who is not in compliance, we’re ready to assist them with voluntary compliance.”
New Mexico’s campaign code seems to be made of elastic. Scofflaws might be hammered in traffic court, but uncooperative politicians on the campaign trail can expect leniency.
I guessed Baca’s campaign report must be a complicated bear, possibly loaded with a few hundred contributors. Why else would someone who says he could manage a court docket and dispense justice be so late in filing a mandatory document?
Baca’s report turned out to be skimpy. He listed only seven contributions. One was for $200, but Baca failed to identify the donor.
Baca by far was his own largest contributor. He donated $3,887.95 to his campaign. Baca listed expenses matching that amount, right to the last penny.
Three other Democrats are running against Baca for the Division 2 Magistrate Court judgeship. Two of the candidates, Melissa Mascarenas and Michael Roybal, met the filing deadline. The other, Devatma Singh Khalsa, was one day late.
For all his tardiness, Baca wasn’t the worst offender of the candidates in Santa Fe.
County Commissioner Rudy Garcia, who is seeking reelection in the June 7 Democratic primary election, still hasn’t submitted his report on campaign contributions and costs.
Garcia was in full mañana mode when I asked why he hadn’t filed the required documents.
“I’m actually out today. My grandma’s not doing very well, but we can talk in a couple days,” Garcia wrote in a text message. “I assume I was in compliance, but I’ll look into it.”
Garcia wrote back three hours later.
“The auto compliance” — Garcia probably meant out of compliance — “is because there was a miscommunication with myself in regards to I didn’t realize we had to file every single month during the primary.”
Garcia’s challengers, Camilla Bustamante and Chris Rivera, filed their reports on time.
A different sort of deadline must have hogtied Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber last week. Webber on Fridays distributes what he calls a “weekly wrap” of news about city government.
His most recent effort trumpeted passage of the city budget, lunch offerings at a senior center and schoolchildren who helped pick up 10 tons of trash.
But hizzoner the mayor somehow failed to mention the end of Mary McCoy’s employment as his finance director.
McCoy and Webber badly missed deadlines on financial audits for three years in succession. Webber’s alibis for these failings have rankled residents.
He says he runs a transparent government. That can only mean crushing pressure to churn out his weekly communiqué prevented the mayor from explaining McCoy’s departure.
Webber’s underlings wouldn’t say whether McCoy was fired or quit, claiming city personnel matters cannot be discussed.
Their claim is at odds with Webber’s record. He announced the ouster of City Manager Brian Snyder in 2018.
Snyder had authorized a secretive plan to give 37 select city workers double-digit raises. Webber initially supported Snyder but reversed course after then-City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler pointed out the raises violated city policy.
Webber told a room full of reporters he asked for and received Snyder’s resignation as city manager. Snyder for a time remained on the city payroll in a lesser job.
But McCoy’s departure after years of controversies is supposed to be a hush-hush episode.
Webber’s staff bought the mayor a couple of days with its Friday news dump acknowledging McCoy no longer works for the city.
Left unsaid was how Webber plans to fix a finance department that cannot complete its most basic task on time — accounting for the public’s money.
No one should have to wait for answers. Even the land of mañana has limits on stonewalling.