Politicos

Santolina - Wayne's World

Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson writes of his support for Santolina Master Plan in the Albuquerque Journal  dismissing opposition, throwing around rotten red herrings and concluding:

Passion and an intense desire to stop new development in Bernalillo County simply aren’t enough for the commission to deny a property owner his or her property rights. 

Aside from hyperbole, this indicates he misses the public benefit part of planning. Changing or denying Santolina wouldn't constitute infringement on property rights. But approving a plan without apparent public benefit and protections has big consequences for County residents. It also makes the Commissioners look like tools.

Continue reading "Santolina - Wayne's World" »


Land of Limited Liability

One of the most important skills of Santa Fe Ring members was concealing involvement in various deals through use of agents, employees and opaque subsidiaries. Alonzo B. McMillen, the lawyer responsible for legal destruction of the Alameda land grant in the first decades of the last century, took pains to hide his ownership interests through formation of the San Mateo Land Company.*

NmllcMcMillen's quiet acquisitions during a twelve year period of court proceedings resulted in San Mateo Land Company owning nearly half the grant before the case was over and the court-ordered sale began. San Mateo then bought the remainder of the grant for $15,000. After deduction of McMillen's legal fees and costs, a mere $8000 was left to be divided between shareholders, including San Mateo Land Company that got $3500. The audaciously shady deal meant McMillen got the vast majority of the land and paid himself handsomely to do so. A pitiful remainder was left to be divided between actual grant residents and other shareholders.**

Today there are undoubtedly many legal, political and personal reasons to obscure asset ownership.  Most are probably far less grandiose than McMillen's. Legitimate and scam "asset protection" schemes identify New Mexico as a great place to form LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations) in order to "be invisible" and "keep people from finding out where you live." This site notes you don't even have to come to New Mexico to file.


This likely explains the great number of incorporation filings listed in the Albuquerque Journal  business section that might lead one to think small businesses are booming.  Obscured land deal ownership might also explain New Mexico's continued land use, water and environmental policy void where responsible governing should be.

 

 *This juicy history is set forth by Kristopher N. Houghton in, "The Blighted History of the Alameda Land Grant"  Fall 2008  Volume 48 Number 4 - Natural Resources Journal. UNM School of Law.

**McMillen filed the partition case in 1906 and formed the San Mateo Land Company in 1907. Bernalillo County filed against the Alameda grant for non-payment of 1908 property taxes. Author Houghton wonders if  payment was made especially difficult in those years by the internal disputes the partition case caused between community members. One can also wonder about McMillen's choice of saints. San Mateo, AKA Saint Matthew, is the patron saint of tax collectors and accountants.

 


Bronson's Own Hand

Delighted to begin reading some of Bronson Cutting's handwritten letters today. His biographer, Richard Lowitt, left extensive paperwork with UNM. The material is from not only the Bronson Murray Cutting collection in the Library of Congress but from those that wrote about him, not just to him, inluding Albert Fall and Harold Ickes.*

He wrote most letters in Lowitt's file on small 5x7 sheets. Here's a snippet of Bronson's hand.

Bronson's handwriting

Continue reading "Bronson's Own Hand" »


Lessons from the 2013 #nmleg

Roundhouse buffaloThe capitol building itself is a wondrous place. This year again I found myself walking round and round looking for a committee room that had disappeared. A friend remarked it would be a bad place for a bad acid trip. Look! That buffalo is coming out of the wall!

The final days of the session were a little stale and sad - like the last weekend of the State Fair when all the grass is brown and the animals are gone. The bills are like those 4-H livestock projects. A whole lot of work. Few trophies. They die.

Sitting in committee hearing rooms turned up interesting details and occasional spontaneous outbursts of sincere emotion. No less interesting were instances of calculated misdirection or omissions in testimony -  and the potent questions left hanging

How much gas or oil do we get for all that fresh groundwater?

And shouldn't water be worth more than oil? 

The major things:

1. New Mexico consistently overvalues engineers, businessmen and big construction projects and undervalues artists, teachers and intangible natural assets. It's all about the money. No less at the legislature. Probably more so. Treatment of water in a drought is one example. Water rights market wheeling and dealing is very hot right now. Many predict those who can not pay for water lawyers and hydro-geologists will be left high and dry. Small farmers. Small fish. Meanwhile big water pipeline projects with fat construction contracts will be justified with magical incantations.* Gila River? Go Fish.
 
2. The negative impacts of the oil and gas industry are denied, ignored and suppressed. To use water as an example again, the industry uses veritable buttloads of water and pollutes it as fast as they can frack. But the state doesn't track this water use at all. Nor do they know what's in it before it's disposed. Any bill considered 'unfavorable' to the industry is met with exhortations to stop 'antagonizing' oil and gas. This from legislators who proudly hail intimate ties to the business.

The sign by the door of the Senate press room calls it the 'Print Media Gallery' which could imply exclusion of a blogger or social mediaist. But like a lot of other things in the Roundhouse the sign does not reflect reality or truth. Or it would read, 'Senate Staff Lunch Gallery.'

*Jobs, jobs, jobs- the magic words for any proposal that might otherwise lack merit.


Largest Landowners

The names apparently include a New Mexican. Here's the Land Report 100 - Largest Landlowners list.* This is not by weight.

A person with same name as one of them, Number 72, is presently requesting public funds through a LEDA grant from the Bernalillo County Commission to build another set of big boxes in an alfalfa field he owns at Coors and Rio Bravo Boulevards.

The zoning for the site was approved years ago when Teresa Cordova, stalwart protectress of valley values, was in office. As I recall, one of the arguments at the time was how the County needed its own retail development.  That huge Walmart right next door was in the evil City. (Say it with a hissss.)  So Wal-Mart didn't count except as a "changed community condition" that bolstered the argument for the conversion of more prime farmland into yet another speculative real estate venture. Sad but true.

 

 

* In spite of my much coveted position as primary steward of Whitelodge and Weed Ranch, I'm not on the list.

 


Roundhouse Showdown

Last night Representative Andy Nuñez tried to put a controversial bill up for a vote on the House floor and Speaker Lujan swept it out the door.  The Santa Fe New Mexican has the story. Reporters expected it and the Governor's staffperson had been waiting to film the stunt all day.  Watch dizzycam here.  It captures all the R's gesturing at the press after the Speaker left the chambers.  They're all looking up and saying, "Did you see that Trip?"  He did.

Before this staged drama came the long contentious debate about the film bills.  And before that came the long contentious debate about the budget.  And before that came a lot of tedious talk about cowboys.  I can boldly speak for cowpeople everywhere when I say no one really wanted to stay in that room a second longer. No one but those itching for the Nuñez drama.

Earlier in the afternoon Representative  Thomas Garcia had taken obvious pleasure in hours of verbal evisceration on budget amendments.  He grilled until well-done and the time limit was up.  This limit is called "Rule 20" I understand.  If they debate any longer, unicorns start dying.

Continue reading "Roundhouse Showdown " »


The Cricket Coogler File

Jay Miller tells Cricket Coogler's story* Inside the Capital and describes the tradition of outgoing governors offering advice to incoming governors.  Governor Ed Mechem had vowed to solve the murder mystery and never did.

Four years later, when John Simms took office as governor, he found one item on his desk when entered the governor's office. It was a file labeled "Cricket Coogler." Nothing more was ever heard about that file.

An interesting sidelight of the situation is that all the politicians and appointed officials involved in the case were Democrats. Meachem was the first Republican governor in 20 years. If anyone were going to blow the whistle, it was Meachem.

His advice to Simms must have been fascinating.

 http://cocoposts.typepad.com/cocoposts/images/2007/09/16/mecca_mt_christo_rey2.jpg

 

*Coco, as self-appointed obsessive Curator of Coco's Cricket Coogler Club, has read all the books, watched the video, published 9 posts about Cricket, Happy Apodaca, gambling hang outs of the era like Uncle Frank's Mecca Club, and conducted pilgrimages to the Mesquite Cemetery and Anapra.

 

 


Most Corrupt State

 New Mexico is right down there with the dirtiest based on all kinds of sleazy in The Daily Beast.

Their reverse-order list ranks public corruption, racketeering & extortion, fraud, forgery & counterfeiting and embezzlement convictions. 

By using a decade’s worth of federal data, we were able to minimize changes in local law enforcement efficacy, though some flaws remain: local cases go undocumented, and the FBI data is self-reported by local law enforcement. When combined, however, the data provides a fairly deep look into which jurisdictions are uncovering the most corruption. We leveled the playing field by calculating the numbers on a per-100,000 people basis.

They crunched some numbers.  They leveled the field.  And guess what?  We're number 45!  Oh. Wait.  Making ours among the most corrupt states - right there with Illinois.  Oh nevermind.  Apparently I read the stupid thing wrong.   We're  clean as a whistle, comparatively.  Now that is sad. 

Manny Aragon is featured - along with this AP photo by Laura Husar of Manny counting crimes he hasn't committed on one hand.

MannyNew Mexico has a long history of public corruption (see: New Mexico state treasurers), and one of the more interesting characters to arise from its history is Manny Aragon. Aragon was a senator for the state for 29 years, but his legacy was marred in 2008 when he pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy and mail fraud related to a plan to steal $4.4 million from the state during the construction of the Albuquerque metro courthouse. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison and ordered to pay a $750,000 fine and $649,000 in restitution.


Time for Gary Johnson

If ever there was a time, says Pollster Sanderoff in a thin little laudatory Salon interview.  

Political observers back in Johnson' s home state don't necessarily fancy his chances of becoming the Republican standard-bearer in 2012. But they have been wary of underestimating him ever since he came from nowhere to win the governorship. 

"He's got to be viewed as a long shot," says New Mexico pollster Brian Sanderoff. "On the other hand, he makes good arguments, he's an energetic guy, he' s not your typical politician and he' s got his rap down pretty well. 

"If ever there was a time for someone like Gary Johnson, it's now."

Read the whole thing.

As governor of New Mexico, Johnson vetoed some 750 bills, a total that he has said surpasses the aggregate vetoes of all the nation' s other governors during that period. He became known as "Governor No," a label he seems to wear with some pride. Ron Paul is, of course, known in some quarters as "Dr No."

You know, President No. 


County Ethical Winds

Look what those nasty gusts uncovered!  Bernalillo County is all about jobs, jobs, jobs -  for your friends, friends, friends and family, family, family.  KRQE has County nepotism news of the day.  And The Albuquerque Journal reporter Dan Mayfield says the County will give former commissioner Al Valdez a job.  What hiring freeze?  Mayfield calls Valdez's history "controversial." The word sleazy blew into my mind. 

Who had the bright idea to hire him and think nobody would notice?

Valdez was a campaign supporter of Commission Chairman Art De La Cruz, who represents the South Valley-based district where Valdez lives.  De La Cruz said he wasn't involved in the hiring and that the county manager hadn't asked him about it and that Valdez hadn't talked to him about it.

"I tried to stay away from that as much as possible," De La Cruz said. "I don't want him to be discriminated against, and I don't want him to get preferential treatment. I can't speak to his credentials or lack thereof."  Bernalillo County ethics rules prohibit county commissioners from involvement in most employment decisions.

I know, it was just the wind talking.  Why, he could have blown right into the seat of County Manager.   :cold shiver:

How's that new ethicy thing working out? I'm only getting the icky part.