Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Political Power Players Of 2011: Those Who Will Most Influence The New Martinez Adminstration Revealed, Plus: State PIO's Scurry For New Jobs

Gardner, Adair & Barbour
Who are the new Santa Fe political power players for 2011? That's one of the burning questions surrounding Governor-elect Susana Martinez, and with the help of our Insiders, Alligators, Wall-Leaners and Hangers-on, we have some answers.

First, Martinez is described around the Capitol as an empty vessel waiting to be filled. She has little knowledge of the workings of state government. Her policy acumen is limited and is centered on the judiciary since she is a 14 year Dona Ana County district attorney.

This means at least for her first year or so in office, the people around her are going to be powerful, maybe in some cases very powerful.

We start with the obvious. Roswell State Rep. Keith Gardner, tapped to be Martinez's chief of staff, will be the keeper of the gate. He will have major league power because he will determine who gets face time with the new governor.

But who is close to Gardner? Hold on to your chile ristras, kids. It's none other than GOP State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair who also hails from Roswell. Rod, a political demographer, was instrumental in getting Keith to the state House when he helped him oust Earlene Roberts in a GOP primary in 2004.

Adair is known for his volatile temperament but he also possesses a keen political mind and is no slouch when it comes to knowing the operations of state government. He managed the successful campaign of GOP Secretary of State candidate Dianna Duran. Ever since, there has been speculation that he could be in line to become director of the state bureau of elections under Duran. His close relationship with Gardner makes him a key power player for 2011.

When Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour calls Susana, she will answer right away. In his role as chairman of the Republican Governor's Association Barbour directed $1.3 million in campaign cash to Susana. That amounts to 19 percent of all of her donations which totaled $6.9 million. Immediately after her election, the RGA singled her out for inclusion on their "leadership team."

National R's are obsessed with broadening their party's base by reaching out to the fast growing Hispanic population. Susana is being groomed by them as an example and also to possibly position her for national GOP politics.

Barbour will be one of the few out-of-state politicos to be able to insert himself at will into the politics and practices of Martinez. She won't mind because it's all about making her look and perform well. Meanwhile, Barbour may find some New Mexicans tapping at his door as they try to get through Susana's portal.

Put former GOP New Mexico Governor Garrey Carruthers ('87-'90) high on your list--very high--of 2011 political power players. Carruthers knows Martinez well. He shares her hometown of Las Cruces where he is a powerhouse at New Mexico State University. She likes him. He has been named to one of her transition committees. But most important, Martinez will be able to lean on Carruthers who has already been there and done that. His interest will be in making her look good and influencing public policy. Maybe also getting a friend or two some government work. But Carruthers, 71, will have the Guv's ear and confidence because like Barbour he is not seeking personal political advancement.

Harvey Yates may be leaving the chairmanship of the NM Republican Party, but he was instrumental in advancing Martinez to the governorship. He will be gone, but not forgotten and a full-fledged 2011 political power player. His main concern will be protecting the oil and gas industry. No one will have better access to Martinez to make that case than Yates.

Heather Wilson has stepped on some toes in the Martinez camp during this transition which she was chosen to head up. But the former ABQ congresswoman is populating state government with her operatives and they will be running the government. Through them, Wilson will easily be placed on the 2011 political power list.

You don't hear much about Martinez's husband, Chuck Franco, but he will be a 2011 political power player. The quiet and unassuming soon to retire undersheriff of Dona Ana County is a constant and supportive presence for Martinez. One can easily speculate that his role will be in helping Martinez who she can and can not trust. If Chuck says you don't pass the smell test, your chances of getting through to the new Guv will be about as good as finding a donut shop not filled with cops.

We'll have a new Governor who will be using training wheels during her first year but make no mistake about it, Susana Martinez will be the ultimate political power player of 2011. The state Constitution and the people of New Mexico have made sure of that.


Gordon Eden, a longtime fixture in various high-level government posts and a Republican of moderate reputation, takes over the Department of Public Safety under Susana. He just finished a nine year stint as US Marshall for NM and was motor vehicle secretary under GOP Guv Gary Johnson.

The appointment should put an end to the speculation about ABQ Public Safety Director Darren White joining the Martinez administration. The former sheriff had been mentioned as a possible chief of staff for Susana as well as secretary for the public safety department--a job he held under Governor Johnson.

Eden's appointment may alleviate concerns among Hispanics that DPS would take a hard turn to the right when it came to immigration issues.


So much for playing it dark. Gov-elect Martinez and Congressman-elect Steve Pearce, ABQ Mayor Berry and other top R's have written a letter to state GOP central Committee members endorsing former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman as the next GOP party chair. Attorney Nina Martinez, the state GOP first vice-chair, is the other candidate for chair. The letter says Newman would be effective in raising funds for the 2010 cycle.

We came with the story Tuesday that Newman had the backing of the Martinez camp, but it was not out in the open. We wondered why the Governor-elect could not have cleared the field for her favorite candidate. This letter effectively ends the Nina Martinez candidacy which was backed by Susana Martinez Republican Gvv primary rivals Allen Weh and Doug Turner. It would not be surprising to see Nina throw in the towel and give it to Monty by acclamation at Saturday's ABQ convention. And that's what Governors do.


Could Big Bill communications honcho Gilbert Gallegos, a former ABQ Tribune reporter, find work as the Bernalillo County public information officer when the clock runs out on Bill come December 31. One of our downtown ABQ Alligators says it is indeed a possibility and gives us the inside story:

The opening for a Public Information Director for Bernalillo County comes after the recent removal of Liz Hamm from that position, and her placement in a “new” job as PIO for County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Insiders know that Hamm’s removal was fallout from the summer’s continuing bad news stories in the local media. Liz was encouraging taking the high road, yet the County Manager and Commissioners wanted to curtail the flow of information to the media and public. This position, which is at-will, is really all about supporting the Commissioners and Manager.

Insiders also note that Governor Richardson has personally spoken to County Manager Thaddeus Lucero about hiring the Gov’s communications director Gilbert Gallegos for the County position. Gallegos did get a recent interview, as did other current state PR flacks Tia Bland and Dan Ware.

Here is the job posting.

Many PIO's for the state are "exempt," meaning a lot of them can and will be canned when new GOP Governor Martinez takes over the first of the year. Gallegos has been one of Bill's most loyal lieutenants, staying through the good times and bad. Richardson's reticence to talk to some of the media in his final months has made it tougher for Gallegos, but he has earned his stripes in one of the toughest PR jobs in the state.

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The Thug or the Nice Guy? A sermon about Marriage & Family


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Monday, November 29, 2010

Monty Newman Emerges As Front-Runner For NM GOP Chairman; We Game The Race, Plus: Harvey's Term, And: Big Bill & Guv Gary News

Monty Newman
Some old fault lines are appearing as the newly resurrected state Republican Party prepares to select a new chairman Saturday. GOP Senior Alligators have been gaming the action for us and here's how it tracks.

Former Hobbs mayor, realtor and 2008 southern congressional contender Monty Newman has emerged as the late front-runner over Bernalillo County attorney and state GOP First Vice-Chair Nina Martinez. That's because the political arm of Governor-elect Susana Martinez is swinging its support to Newman. No other major contenders are expected.

Not everyone thinks the new Republican Governor should have the right to name the new GOP chair. Allen Weh and Doug Turner, both who were conquered by Susana Martinez for the GOP Guv nomination, are backing Nina Martinez, hoping not to have the party doors completely closed to them. Turner, in particular, still seeks a path to future political power.

Also, there are still some hurt feelings over the primary. Martinez has yet to heal those wounds. If she had, she might have been able to get Nina out early and Monty in unopposed. On the other hand, why are Weh and company not lining up when Susana received 90 percent of the GOP vote?

Newman's supporters claim he's the "true conservative" in the race and with the apparent backing of the state's #1 R, he is going to be formidable. Backers of Nina Martinez, a former assistant counsel to ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, assert that she has paid much more in the way of party dues than Monty and it is her turn at helm.

Fund-raising is a key duty of a party chair and in that department Newman brings an edge because of his business background.

Gov-elect Martinez is slated to speak to the delegates, but will go dark on the chair race. However, her chief political consultant for her Guv campaign, Jay McCleskey, can be expected to help whip the 331 GOP Central Committee delegates who will decide the contest. McCleskey's Lincoln Strategy Group consulted not only Martinez this past cycle but other prominent R candidates.

Susana Martinez had a blow-the-doors-off win at the party's pre-primary convention earlier this year. Many of those delegates will vote on state chair Saturday, giving Newman a decided advantage.

If you're looking for an ideological clash there is hard to glean one from this race. Newman is more conservative than Nina, but only nominally so. He does have deep tie to conservative Christians. But the race is about the new Guv-to-be and her political arm consolidating power. To the victor go the spoils and all that...


Outgoing GOP Chairman Harvey Yates of the wealthy SE NM oil family leaves with a shine to his name. He took over in early '09 from Allen Weh who left to seek the GOP Guv nod after presiding over the GOP debacle of 2008. It is true that the times turned favorably for Yates, but he took advantage of it. He leaves with a Republican about to take over the Guv's office and with 33 R's in the state House. That's the most in modern history.

Yates lives in the ABQ home originally occupied by one of the state's most successful Democratic politicians--the late Senator Dennis Chavez. The gods do have funny ways of amusing themselves, don't they?


Susana, you can trim $2 million off that $452 million projected shortfall. That's the amount the University of New Mexico Athletic Department is getting from the state General Fund. If we can't cut that out with a dull-edged butter knife, we can't cut anything.

Do you sense that UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs and UNM President David Schmidly are on their last legs? It has been one disappointment after another at our Harvard at the Rio Grande and one assumes the new Guv administration has had enough. Their suggestions for change are going to be welcomed with open arms--and relief.


How about $95,000 for managing a little city of 16,000 where the median income is $25,000. From down south and Sunland Park, NM:

Sunland Park has hired a former New Mexico Border Authority director as the new manager of the southern New Mexico community. Andrew Moralez of Anthony, N.M., succeeds Jaime Aguilera, who resigned in late September...

As Gershwin wrote, "Nice work if you can get it..."


But $95K a year wouldn't even pay a month's salary for the lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America---a job Big Bill is again rumored to be in the running for. We picked up on that Monday from the national press, but the Guv's office again says Bill is not in the running. From his office:

Just wanted you to know that the Governor is still not interested in it or any other Washington lobbyist job. He plans on staying in Santa Fe...

If Bill does stay in Santa Fe for any length of time after January 1, he would be the only recent Governor we can recall doing so. Hey, maybe he could set up a permanent lunch table at the Rio Chama where he could comment on all of Governor Martinez's action and prepare to run against her in 2014.

Now you'd love that, wouldn't you?

Bill's predecessor, Republican Gary Johnson, still nurtures comeback plans--but on a grand scale. He continues to try to drum up support for a 2012 bid for the GOP presidential nod. Johnson has always enjoyed tilting at windmills. He now lives in Taos.


Reader Charles Lehman writes about our Monday economy blog:

Excellent thoughts on the economy of the future in your blog--concentrating on education and stop demonizing government which is a major part of the economy and why we are not in even worse shape. A great opportunity for this state is in renewable energy. We are ideally situated by natural, research and manufacturing resources to be the national leader with the proper planning.

Thanks, Charles. We've had trouble attracting and keeping solar energy manufacturing facilities, but the Richardson administration has laid the groundwork for getting solar and wind power generated in the state onto the power grid and into our homes. That could be a big deal.


We received a lot of email about that "mission statement" from a conservative Senior Alligator that we posted Monday. In it he called for the new administration to "tame the teachers' unions" and "make government work for voters from the private sector who pay the bills and not the leeches who suck from the government teat."

Even though we clearly identified as it coming from a Senior Gator and used italics to denote it as a quote, some folks still thought the fiery missive was our personal opinion. It wasn't, but we'll let reader and teacher John Thayer vent over it:

On your mission statement for the new governor, you suggested "putting learning back into public education." Can you give us teachers some kind of a break? I have a masters degree in math and teach at one of the most widely ridiculed schools in ABQ. I have great successes with these kids. We work from bell to bell and most of them love math after they have been in my room.

I choose to be at a low performing school even though I get other job offers and I'm mot the only one! If you only knew how it felt to work this hard at something you love while constantly being laughed at and scapegoated by the media and politicians who have never set foot in a public school except for photo ops. I love your blog, by the way, keep up the good work...

Thanks, Charles--for that note and for the hard work you and our teachers perform.


We can now put up that cool logo from ABQ The Magazine now that the edition where its readers name us as the best blog in these here parts has hit the newsstands. Thanks much to those readers and to the staffers at the mag--photog Liz Lopez and the new editor--Dan Mayfield-- for the photo and write-up they gave us. Earlier this year the readers of the alternative weekly the Alibi also awarded us best blogger honors of 2010.

What's especially gratifying is that the recognition comes from the readers of two publications that appeal to entirely different audiences and age groups.
That'll keep us on our toes...

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Natural Envy Spotlights




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Winter Hair Care

re-post:  http://www.blogher.com/hair-care-tips-black-hair-winter

Winter is here; which means a change of wardrobe, driving conditions and should mean a change in your hair care regimen.  This may also mean a change in your hair care products, especially if you have natural hair. If you were lax in your hair care during the warmer months, you may have survived with minor damage, but if you do not take some serious precautions during the colder months, come Spring, you will definitely regret it.
Because the winter months can wreak havoc on your hair, it’s very important to choose low maintenance styles so that you do not have to comb or brush often. It’s also a great idea to incorporate a routine that causes very little stress on your hair such as letting the hair air dry instead of blow drying it; finger combing the hair instead of using an actual comb; or if you do use a comb, use a wide tooth comb. Also, chose good moisturizing hair care products that do not contain mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, SLS or SLES, as all of these cause dryness.

The harsh cold and frosty winds can cause excessive dryness and dandruff, and if you don’t retain or replenish the moisture in your hair, damage will soon follow. The best way to combat this is by protecting the hair. During the winter, I never leave out of my house without my hair being covered. I generally wear a satin or silk scarf under my winter hat to preserve the style as well as prevent direct contact with the harsh material most hats are made of.
In the winter the air becomes extremely dry and harsh; inside and outside. In order to retain moisture in your hair during the day, it is good to use a humidifier to emit humidity in the air inside of your home or office.  This will not only combat dry and brittle hair, but can help prevent or minimize dandruff.
Many women opt to wear protective styles during the winter. Protective styles are styles that guard the ends of the hair from the elements; buns, braid extensions, and weaves are a few protective styles to consider. Each of these styles are generally low maintenance, and if maintained properly will allow you to preserve as much of your hair as possible throughout the winter months.
If you choose to wear a bun, it’s important to make sure that the hair is not pulled back too tightly, as this may cause stress on the hair line. It is also a good idea to take the bun down every night and lightly mist the ends (about the last 2 inches of hair) with a good moisturizing spray such as Growth by Sweet Nature by Eddie; and then lock in that moisture with a heavy oil such as castor oil. This will leave the hair super soft, strong and moisturized in the morning.
Braid extensions are also a great choice for winter months. If you follow these simple tips, not only will you preserve your hair, but you will have much stronger, softer and healthier hair come Spring.  If you are going to use synthetic braiding hair such as yaki, kanekelon or other synthetic fibers, it is best if you soak the hair in apple cider vinegar and then rinse in cool water before getting your extensions put in. Synthetic braids come coated with a chemical that causes our hair to become dry; this will strip the chemical away. Another way to reduce dryness is by spraying the hair with a braid spray every day, again the Growth Spray by Sweet Nature is an excellent braid spray. You don’t have to drench the hair; a fine mist throughout the extensions will suffice.
Weaves are considered protective only if they are sewn in and your own hair is cornrowed, out of harm’s way.  In this case, the only thing that is essential to retain moisture is to make sure that it is replenished on a regular basis. Depending on the quality of the weave, it’s a good idea to run water through the hair on a regularly, followed with a good moisturizing spray.
Regardless of which protective style you chose to rock during the winter, it’s important to make water your best friend; drink plenty of it and let it run through your hair often. You don’t have to shampoo your hair every time you get it wet, but just letting water run through your hair will restore lost moisture.  When I wear braid extensions, I let water run through my braid every other day; although I wash them only once a week. I also try to kick up my water intake to no less than sixty or so ounces a day.
The best way of all to combat winter damage is to be proactive. If you start out with your hair strong and healthy before the winter, it will be a lot easier to maintain and preserve during winter. Adopt a weekly routine of washing with a moisturizing shampoo void of SLS and SLES; a good deep conditioner, and good moisturizer that does not contain mineral oil, petrolatum or paraffin, as these ingredients lead to dryness.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Balancing the Checkbook: Can Susana Start At The Top? Plus: A Post-Holiday Blog Special; This Economy Of Ours; A Way Forward

The first round of key appointments by Governor-elect Martinez are drawing mostly good reviews. Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico are aware that a budget bloodbath could be in store, but they don't want--or need--a legislative train wreck to go with it. The appointment of experienced state legislators to top staff positions is seen as a sign that compromise with the Legislature is not entirely out of the question. And that's a good thing.

While Martinez is getting kudos for the selection of Roswell Rep. Gardner as chief of staff and former Clayton area Rep. Moore as deputy chief of staff, the crowd gathered at the gates awaiting the "bold change" the Guv-to-be promised is still waiting for the first act.

For example, when Republican RJ Berry was elected ABQ mayor in '09, he trimmed back the salaries of his department directors, getting many of them below $100,000 year. He also claimed significant savings in reorganizing the mayor's office.

Can't Martinez do the same? What about reducing the number of employees in the Guv's office which has swelled under Big Bill? What about trimming the salaries up there? Bill's chief of staff is now making north of $140,000 a year.

Gardner and Moore are on the state retirement system so the higher their salaries, the higher their eventual retirement checks. This and every other potential vulnerability in the new administration will be pointed out if cuts are proposed that would throw people out of work or cut services.


With headlines again screaming of that federal probe into pay-to-play allegations at the State Investment Council, it has been Big Bill's legal future that has been figuring into the most recent water-cooler conversations. But the Guv gets a reprieve from the speculation about his legal problems as the national press reports his name is back in the mix for that $1.2 million a year job as the DC lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America. His name has surfaced repeatedly as this plum job has been vacant since May.

$1.2 million a year? That ought to be enough to pay for legal fees back in New Mexico.


How about this for a cogent mission statement for the new administration, coming from a Senior Alligator of a conservative bent:

I think blockbuster performance from state government is reorganizing higher education, taming the teachers' unions, putting learning into public education, downsizing government, reducing the intrusion of government, and taming the government employee unions. Nothing liberals find sexy. Just nuts and bolts work to make government work for voters from the private sector who pay the bills and not for the leeches who suck from the government teat...

Well, we don't see the economic structure of the state quite that way which leads us to....


They call these "15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America."

It really is the story of our time, isn't it? How so much wealth became concentrated at the top of the American pyramid as the middle class languishes.

For New Mexico, there are some solutions right in front of us--adjust personal income tax rates upward on the most wealthy taxpayers; create new well-paying middle class jobs by encouraging development of the Spaceport and opening a dental school at UNM; work to maximize the large federal presence in the state which has provided the most reliable and secure jobs for the past seventy years and has spun off millions in contracts and hundreds of small businesses; shrinking or eliminate dubious tax credits that cost our treasury needed tax dollars; escalate marketing of our state's agricultural products in the global economy; be mindful of the importance of oil and gas even as we pursue renewable energy.

What New Mexico doesn't need to do is erode through neglect the fundamental pillars of the state economy. The bromide that "government doesn't create jobs" flies in the face of the entire state's history and has no connection with reality. The latest numbers show that 25% of New Mexico's work force is now employed by government. When you add in the contractors and indirect government jobs, you can pretty much conclude that about half the state's employees toil for government.

That's not an inherent evil. It is who we are. To build a modern day economy, generations of state and national political leaders--both Republican and Democrat--worked to establish New Mexico as the premier host for the nation's national security programs and a myriad of military installations. It worked brilliantly as our isolated geography, tiny population and other challenges were simply too Herculean to attract private capital.


Those who yearn so desperately to have us compete with Silicon Valley or the Massachusetts Miracle seem unable to comprehend our limitations and blame taxes, regulations and other bogeymen as the reasons for our private sector under performance. Yet in the past decade we have provided millions in tax incentives and put out an unregulated red carpet to literally dozens of private enterprises, most of which have failed to take hold.

Which takes us back to Governor-elect Martinez and the opportunity for a fresh start. If there is any lesson from the lost decade of trying to lure business, it's that we have failed to invest adequately in our human capital. We lack the educated and entrepreneurial work force that is needed to compete in private enterprise. And we now know it.

This is why we think Martinez's campaign pledge not to cut funding for public education resonated so loudly. The continued and depressing lag in performance by Hispanic and Native American students--who comprise the majority of the state's public school students--is the primary barricade to developing a more robust private sector. You can cut taxes to the bone and eliminate the entire regulatory code, but if you don't have people who can do the work, the work can't be done. It's that simple.


The new Governor does not need a diversified agenda. We had that the past eight years. Besides, we no longer have the money for one. Martinez's best bet--perhaps her only bet to deliver fundamental economic change--is to finally put the state on the path to public school success among the population groups that perennially under perform.

That's going to cost money. You would be cutting your nose off to spite your face if you started slashing pre-kindergarten and child nutrition and health programs. And what of the parents and the value system that does not put a premium on education? How do we get at that? If you are Governor, maybe you act like a wartime president, immersing most of your time and energy in this singular effort whose outcome is central to the way we look ten years from now.


If, as we argue, that New Mexico won't attract the next Apple or Cisco until we get our education house in order, the immediate economic future means protecting and enhancing what we have. The last thing we want to do is turn up our noses and sneer at the thousands of "government jobs" that are providing a badly needed anchor in this Great Recession.

Apart from high oil and natural gas prices, the previous bull market that took the state's jobless rate down to record low levels was an illusion. It was a real estate bubble that added thousands of construction and retail jobs--now mostly all gone and that are not coming back.

Our leaders need to hold Washington's feet to fire to honor the commitments it has made to this state as the nation's national security colony. Our military bases and national labs need a strong defense against the budget cutters. And we should protect and enhance the private sector we have.

Our agricultural economy needs support as it competes in the global marketplace; the health care industry has been a presence here since the days of TB. It continues to grow and provide jobs. The oil, gas and mining industries are integral, providing hundreds of millions annually in royalties. The ongoing argument over the "pit rule" detracts from the cordial relationship the state has had with oil and gas. It is time to move on.

The moral repulsion that is fashionable in some quarters toward what has been built here is perplexing. We're not talking about the morality debate over nuclear weapons research here, but the repulsion expressed over any type of government employment.

Sure, a more thriving private sector with better paying jobs is the end game. But local Silicon Valley seekers keep putting the proverbial cart (taxes, regulation etc.) before the horse. First, we must wholeheartedly embrace the advancement of the youth who will ride the horse--only then the cart will get moving. Let's get on with it already.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Natural Envy Spotlights


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