Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Johnson Makes it Official. He's Running for Prez as a Libertarian

Johnson announces in Rotunda
Photo by Clyde Mueller for The New Mexican
As anticipated, former Gov. Gary Johnson this morning announced he will seek the Libertarian Party nomination for president of the United States.

At his news conference in the Roundhouse Rotunda, Johnson, who has described himself as a lifelong Republican, announced he is leaving the GOP. Moments later he formally signed a voter registration form declaring himself a Libertarian.

Mark Hinkle, chairman of the national Libertarian Party, traveled from California to speak at Johnson's news conference. Officially Hinkle is neutral in the race, which has nine other declared candidates. But he did note that Johnson is the first two-term governor of any state to join the Libertarian Party.

A spokeswoman for the state GOP said in an e-mail today, "I do not anticipate us having any comment on Johnson's decision to run as a Libertarian."

A spokesman for the current Republican governor of the state, said Gov. Susana Martinez had no comment on Johnson.

Hinkle said that Johnson actually is coming back to the Libertarian Party. He had been a dues paying member back when he was governor, Hinkle said.

Johnson later told reporters that even though he liked President Reagan, in 1984 Johnson voted for the Libertarian candidate because of the debt incurred during Reagan's first term.

He said he supported Ron Paul for president in 2008 and still prefers Paul to the other current Republican presidential candidates. But he said, despite Paul's high poll numbers in Iowa, he doesn't expect Paul to be the GOP nominee.

Asked about the differences between him and Paul, Johnson said, "I am not a social conservative."

Johnson promised to reduce federal spending by 43 percent to balance the national budget; to do away with all current federal taxes to be replaced by a "fair tax" of 23 percent on all goods and services; to "reduce welfare and reduce warfare"; to fight for gun rights as well as gay rights; and to legalize marijuana and change its classification as a "schedule one" drug.

Johnson said it should be easier for Mexican citizens who want to work in the U.S. to get work permits

In today's New Mexican, I quoted UNM political science professor Lonna Atkeson saying that even though the Libertarian Party could be on all state ballots in November, running as a Libertarian will be an extremely uphill battle for Johnson because historically that party -- as well as most third parties in history -- has been handicapped by a lack of resources.

That's not likely to change next year, Atkeson said.

She also noted that Johnson, as a Libertarian, likely would face the same problem he faced while seeking the Republican nomination — being excluded from the televised debates. Not since the 1996 election, when Texas businessman Ross Perot ran on the Reform Party ticket, has a third party been included in a general election debate.

 "The debates have been institutionalized, and it's hard for a third party to be included," Atkeson said.

Asked about that today, Johnson said he believes that there's a "real possibility" that he will be included in next fall's debates.

Updated 2:10 p.m. I added the "no comment" from the state Republican Party.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Could the Libertarians Be a Force in NM in 2012?

With former Gov. Gary Johnson expected to announce tomorrow his bid for the Libertarian Party nomination for president, some wonder whether that could make Johnson a real contender in the contest for New Mexico's five electoral votes.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a PPP poll of New Mexico voters showing Johnson taking more than 20 percent of the vote in the general election in a three-way race with Democrat Barack Obama and either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich as the Republican nominee. According to that poll, Johnson would take 26-30 percent of the Republican vote in New Mexico and win a plurality of the independent vote.

According to PPP, Obama would win the state by 15-17 percentage points with or without Johnson in the race. (That is, if the election were held a couple of weeks ago when the poll was taken.)

If Johnson becomes the Libertarian nominee, he surely would win far more votes in New Mexico than any previous Libertarian candidate.

According to numbers available on the Secretary of State's website, the most votes a Libertarian ever received in a presidential race here was in 1996, when candidate Harry Browne got 2,996 votes in the general election. That was the year when Bill Clinton was re-elected, beating Republican Bob Dole.

In the years since then, the Libertarian candidate normally gets more than 2,000 votes statewide.

The best year for a Libertarian candidate nationwide was 1980, when candidate Ed Clark received 1.1 percent of the national popular vote. However, in every other election the party's standard bearer received less than 1 percent of the popular vote.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'm on Christmas break this and won't be back to work until Tuesday Dec. 27. So I won't be posting much on this blog until then.

But I want to wish all you readers a Merry Christmas. And I'm not the only one with that holiday wish.
And a happy New Year!
(Thanks to Rob at New Mexico Watchdog )

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Roundhouse Roundup: A More Democratic Nomination Process or Just a Slick Shtick?

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Dec. 18 2011

An organization that says it wants to take the "hyper-partisanship" and "special interests" out of presidential politics and change the way the U.S. nominates presidential candidates is gathering petition signatures in New Mexico in an effort to get on next year's general-election ballot. 

Americans Elect's goal is to get its presidential ticket on the ballots of all 50 states. And who are those candidates? That's to be determined by an online "convention" next summer. Every registered voter in the country is eligible to become a delegate. 

In an interview last week, Americans Elect's chief operating officer, Elliot Akerman, explained that the organization will determine a platform of issues, debated and voted on over the Internet. Delegates will determine which candidate best matches the platform. Finalists then must choose their vice presidents. A running mate cannot be someone who belongs to the same party of the presidential candidate. 

In June delegates will vote online to see who will be the Americans Elect standard bearer. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer — who like New Mexico's former Gov. Gary Johnson has been running as a Republican but is ignored by the GOP establishment — recently announced he would seek the nomination. And controversial billionaire Donald Trump last week said he might be interested too. 
Is this Buddy's best shot?

So far, the group has won a place on the ballots in 
11 states. Akerman said. Nearly 2.2 million people across the country have signed petitions for Americans Elect. To get on New Mexico's presidential ballot, a "minor party" needs only 6,028 signatures. 

Thomas Friedman in a July New York Times column bubbled, "What did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music ... Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly ..." 

But not all its press has been so glowing. recently ran a critical article under the headline "The slick shtick of Americans Elect," while Politico published a piece saying the group has a "democracy deficit." 

The National Journal noted last week that President Barack Obama's top political strategist David Axelrod criticized the fact that candidates chosen at the online convention must be approved by a Candidate Certification Committee. "It's like uber-democracy meets backroom bosses," Axelrod said. 

Is this The Donald's
best shot?
The members of the committee are Larry Diamond, a Democrat who is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, a conservative think tank; James Thomson, an independent who was president of the RAND Corporation, a global policy think tank; and — here's one for the conspiracy buffs — former CIA and FBI director William Webster, a Republican. 

In response, the group issued a news release quoting its chief executive officer Kahlil Byrd saying that voters have lost faith in the government and "Washington is failing the American people and misinformed partisan attacks like these are a key reason why." 

The Salon piece was more harsh than Axelrod. "It's fueled by millions of dollars of secret money, there is a group of wealthy, well-connected board members who have control over Americans Elect's nominating process, and the group has myriad links to Wall Street." 

The organization is classified under the tax code as a 501(c)(4) "social welfare" group, meaning its contributors are not reported publicly. 

Americans Elect adviser Darry Sragow, responding to such criticism, defended keeping contributors secret. "Cross those who hold power and you are banished to political Siberia, or targeted ... by unresponsive or hostile government actions," he wrote. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

PPP: If Johnson Runs as a LIbertarian, He'd Be a Big Factor in Prez Race

Former Gov. Gary Johnson could be a major factor in the race for New Mexico's five electoral votes if he runs for president on the Libertarian ticket, the latest Public Policy Poll of New Mexico voters says.

I just spoke with Johnson here at the Roundhouse a few minutes ago and while he says he hasn't completely made up his mind about seeking the Libertarian nod, he sounds like that's the direction he's heading in.

Former Gov. Gary Johnson
According to the poll, In a race between Johnson, President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama would get 44 percent, Romney 27 percent and Johnson would get 23 percent.

If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the GOP candidate, Obama would get 45 percent, Gingrich 28 percent and Johnson gets 20 percent.

"As a third-party candidate, Johnson would draw 26-30 percent of the Republican votes, 12-16 percent of Democrats, and actually win independents with 31-33 percent," the PPP polling memo says.

Johnson noted that if he actually won the state, he'd be the first Libertarian to win any electoral votes in the state.

Without Johnson in the race, Obama would defeat Romney in New Mexico by 15 percentage points and Gingrich by 17 percentage points.

Obama's approval ratings here are weak. 49 percent approve while 46 percent disapprove, according to the poll. But the Republican candidates poll worse here.

“Barack Obama’s popularity is way down in New Mexico but voters don’t see any of the Republican candidates as serious alternatives,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling in a news release. “It should stay in the Democratic column in 2012.”

The big grain of salt:

PPP is a Democratic polling company. Yesterday, state Republicans, as well as a national GOP pollster, attacked PPP for under-representing GOP voters in the poll.

The breakdown of the poll, taken between Dec. 10 and 12, was 52 percent Democrat, 29 percent Republican and 19 percent independent,  the company's director Tom Jensen said in an email.

According to the Secretary of State's website, the actual registration numbers are 49 percent Dem, 32 percent GOP.

"Our final pre election poll in 2008 that got the result pretty much right on the head was also 52 percent (Democrat)," Jensen said.

Jensen was quoted today by Heath Haussamen saying, "…we had fewer Republicans on today’s poll than the 2008 poll, but we also had a sample of independents that was much more Republican leaning than 2008, as shown by (U.S. Senate candidate Heather) Wilson winning those voters. Party ID shifts over time and people who may have identified as Republican in 2008 are now identifying as independent, but still voting Republican. That’s a product of the Tea Party movement – folks might not want to call themselves Republicans anymore but they’re still supporting GOP candidates under a different label.”

In its news releases, PPP says, "PPP is a Democratic polling company, but polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times found that its surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight bias toward Republican candidates."

For its general election poll, PPP surveyed 500 New Mexico voters through automated telephone interviews. The margin of error for the survey is 4.4 percent. This poll wasn't paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.

The Johnson numbers
According to PPP, in New Mexico, "45 percent see (Johnson) favorably and 39 percent unfavorably — not overwhelming numbers, but golden compared to the other Republicans, whose favorability ratings range from 21 percent to 28 percent , and unfavorability figures from 54 percent to 67 percent. Johnson is the only candidate more popular than the president, who has a 49-46 approval spread in the state, down just slightly from 50-44 in June.

"Just because he's doing that in New Mexico doesn't really say anything about his ability to do it on a broader scale," the PPP blog says, "but it shows that with folks who are familiar with his message he has support across the spectrum.
PPP Release NM 1216513

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stapleton Apologizes for "Mexican" Remark

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 16, 2011

A contrite State House Democratic Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton made an apology to Gov. Susana Martinez Thursday for an outburst at the Capitol this week in which she accused a Republican lawmaker of “carrying the Mexican’s water on the fourth floor.”
Christine Trujillo of the American Federation of Teachers
with Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton Thursday

“I lost it, ladies and gentlemen,” Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, told reporters at a news conference. Stapleton, whose demeanor normally is spirited, spoke softly. At times during the conference her voice sounded as if it were about to break.  “I expect more of myself,” she said. “This is not my character.”

Stapleton, the first black woman elected to the Legislature, was surrounded at the conference by several supporters, all Hispanic, some of whom told reporters Stapleton is no racist.

The incident occurred Wednesday during a break of the Legislative Education Study Committee. Stapleton confronted Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, who recently had been interviewed on a KRQE-TV investigative report about Stapleton, a school administrator, being paid by Albuquerque Public Schools while she was in Santa Fe at legislative sessions. At the time, that  was a violation of the school district’s policy, thought the policy since has been changed.

Stapleton said she’s written a letter of apology to Martinez and has requested a meeting with her to “clear the air.”

“I’m a Latina, just like her,” Stapleton said. Martinez is of Mexican-American heritage. Stapleton’s roots are in the Caribbean — The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Stapleton said she wasn’t aware until later that sometimes in New Mexico, calling someone a “Mexican” can be taken as a  pejorative. Many Hispanics in Northern New Mexico, especially older people and those who can trace their ancestry to Spain, refer to themselves as “Spanish.”

“I didn’t think the word ‘Mexican’ was a racial slur,” Stapleton said.

But though she apologized to Martinez and most assumed she was talking about the governor as the “Mexican” on the fourth floor (where the Governor’s Office is located in the state Capitol), when asked to verify that, Stapleton wouldn’t admit she was talking about Martinez.

At one point she said, “I wasn’t thinking about anyone in particular.” She also said that there are other “Mexicans” who  work on the fourth floor besides Martinez.

However, not long after the incident on Wednesday, Stapleton told a reporter from Texas-New Mexico Newspapers that  Martinez and her chief of staff were responsible for drumming up criticism of her that from Republican legislators.

Martinez, in a statement via a spokesman, responded to Stapleton’s apology.

"I believe Rep. Stapleton's words were sad and disappointing. In New Mexico, we pride ourselves on our diversity, and on our ability to be proud of our unique heritage, while remaining united as New Mexicans. I'm pleased that Rep. Stapleton apologized to New Mexicans because the people of our state are the ones who deserve the apology.”

The governor said she would be happy to meet with Stapleton. “I'm certainly not going to allow this unfortunate incident to distract me from accomplishing what the people of New Mexico have elected all of us to achieve on their behalf.”

Earlier in the day, state Republican Party Chairman Monty Newman called upon Stapleton to resign her post as majority whip. “That kind of behavior is beyond the pale and has no place in the New Mexico House of Representatives,” Newman  said in a news release. “Representative Stapleton's rhetoric yesterday was completely unacceptable.”

Stapleton said she would not resign from the position.

After the news conference, at a meeting of the education panel, Stapleton apologized to Espinoza.

Stapleton told reporters at the news conference that she first became upset Wednesday when she arrived at the meeting and a Republican senator chided her for not being at her job.

She said she has been “personally attacked” by Republicans and has been under stress since the KRQE report. Bur she said she takes responsibility for the outburst.

Gingrich, Wilson, Heinrich Top Latest NM Poll

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich leads the presidential race among New Mexico Republicans, while former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson has an even wider lead over her opponents in the U.S. Senate Republican primary race.

However, if the election was this week (instead of 11 months from now), Wilson would lose to Democratic U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich in the general election, 47 percent to 40 percent and, in another scenario, would be tied with Democrat Hector Balderas, the state auditor, at 43 percent each.

That's according to the latest Public Policy Polling surveys of the state published earlier this week.

“Democrats continue to have a modest advantage in the New Mexico Senate contest,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But it looks unlikely they’ll have the kind of cakewalk race they did in 2008 when Tom Udall was overwhelmingly elected to replace Pete Domenici.”

And that race might actually be tighter. Republican pollster Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies tweeted today that the PPP survey over-represents Democrats in this poll by six percentage points. "Reweighted to current (registration) the race is a toss-up: 45percent Heinrich/42 percent Wilson.
Manuel Lujan, Jr. & Heather Wilson
According to the poll, Wilson has the support of 55 percent of "usual Republican voters." That's compared with only 20 percent for Lt. Gov. John Sanchez. Las Cruces businessman Greg Sowards came in at 6 percent while Bill English, whose campaign has been virtually invisible in recent months, received 3 percent in the poll.

PPP's  poll of state Republicans shows Wilson still leading in a hypothetical match-up including former Gov. Gary Johnson, who currently is running for president. However, Johnson repeatedly has said he has no interest in running for Senate or serving in the Senate -- and I believe him. (PPP, in that scenario shows Wilson with 42 percent, Johnson with 31 percent, Sanchez with 15 percent and the others in single digits.

Martin Heinrich & FirefightersOn the Democratic side, Heinrich has 47 percent to Balderas' 30 percent. Twenty three percent are undecided or back someone else.

New Mexico Republicans apparently don't consider Johnson a favorite son in the presidential race. There, Gingrich leads with 39 percent of the vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is in a distant second place with 14 percent, while Johnson comes in third at 11 percent.

Part of Johnson's problem here may be that people don't think he has a chance to be nominated -- Johnson himself has said as much -- so they're leaning toward others. But another thing Johnson has going against him among the GOP is that 37 percent of those interviewed had a negative opinion of him. Forty nine percent had a favorable opinion.

PPP says it will publish results of the general election presidential race tomorrow/

 PPP surveyed 300 usual New Mexico Republican primary voters and 309 usual Democratic primary voters between last Thursday and Saturday. The margin of error for the survey is 5.7 percent The survey wasn't paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.

 PPP is a Democratic polling company, but its results in the last election were fairly accurate. Here's a couple of PPP news releases with poll numbers: PPP Release NM Dec. 2011 PPP poll NM 12-15-2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Supreme Court Rules Against Martinez

The state Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Susana Martinez's line-item veto of bill with a $128 million tax increase on businesses to shore up New Mexico's unemployment compensation fund was unconstitutional and ordered that the bill be reinstated into law.

After the regular session early this year, Martinez vetoed a provision of an unemployment bill that would have increased what businesses pay into the unemployment fund. However, the governor let stand a part of that bill that cut nearly $80 million in unemployment benefits.

 Several Democratic legislators, including House Speaker Ben Luj├ín and Rep. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, last May petitioned the high court, asking that the partial veto be declared unconstitutional.

The court in July put off ruling on it, saying it wanted the governor and Legislature to try to resolve differences during the special session, which took place in September. However, that didn't work out so well. No bill dealing with the program was passed.

In the 20-page decision, Justice Edward Chavez concluded that after the governor's veto, "what remained was an unworkable piece of legislation."

Moments ago, Martinez's spokesman, Scott Darnell commented: "Gov. Martinez used her line-item authority in the same way Governor Richardson did in 2010 and disagrees with the Court's decision today. Unfortunately, Democrats will get their wish to raise taxes on small businesses to fund unemployment benefits, even though the unemployment rate in New Mexico has fallen from 8.7 percent in January to 6.6 percent today.

"The Governor remains committed to working across party lines to reform the unemployment insurance system in a way that puts more New Mexicans back to work and keeps unemployment rates fair and stable for New Mexico small businesses by removing politics and basing rates on sound actuarial data," Darnell said.

Below is the Supreme Court's decision:
  NM Supreme Court Unemployment Decision

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Catching Up

I've been so busy lately I haven't blogged some of the stories I've written for The New Mexican in the past few days.
Carlos Jaramillo

First of all, rest in peace Carlos Jaramillo, a former Santa Fe (and Espanola) police chief, who died in Arizona on Sunday at the age of 78.

I first got to know Carlos after he was appointed police chief in 1996 by Mayor Debbie Jaramillo. That appointment was an extremely controversial one because the mayor was his sister-in-law. The appointment was responsible for a voter backlash in the city elections, which took place about a month later. But after the dust had settled, Chief Jaramillo won the confidence and respect of most his troops, including some officers who had called his appointment a "slap in the face" from the mayor.

After his stint as police chief, Jaramillo worked as head of security for the Legislature during sessions. I'd frequently run into him on the first floor near the snack bar and joke with him that I never was afraid anyone would steal my Frito pie if he was around. As the former mayor told me Monday night, "People just took to Carlos. He was a funny, likable guy."

My condolences to Carlos' family, as well as the Capitol workers and old cops who miss him.


Last week I wrote about U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan being touted as a possible replacement for the retiring Charlie Gonzales, D-Texas as chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. I quoted from an article in Roll Call published last month.

I also quoted U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich saying that it would be good for the state if Lujan gets the post. "As the Hispanic population grows in the U.S., so does the influence of the (Congressional Hispanic Caucus)," Udall said. "Serving as the chair is a significant responsibility with the ability to influence the national agenda."


Also check out this fun little story I did about a project of the New Mexico Centennial Steering Committee. It's a series of 2-minute radio spots concerning stories from the state's history.

There are 16 posted on line for the next few weeks. You can find them HERE

I especially recommend the one about the Socorro County sheriff encountering a UFO in 1964 and the one about lawman/gunslinger/politician Elfego Baca, one of the most unique characters in this state's history.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Unequal Application of the Law?

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Dec. 11, 2011

Santa Fe Republicans indisputably are in the minority. This often leads to grumbling about their treatment by the Democratic majority. Like all political beefs, from any side, sometimes the concerns are overblown. Sometimes not. 

Occupy Santa Fe at Railyard
Photo by Luis Sanchez Saturno/The New Mexican
Last week a couple of local GOP activists raised a valid question about basic fairness. Jim and Sheryl Bohlander emailed that they don't think it's fair that they had to pay hundreds of dollars to use the Santa Fe Plaza for tea-party events while members of the Occupy Santa Fe movement camp out at the city's Railyard Park for free. 

"As two of the principal organizers of the 2009 and 2010 tea-party rallies on the Plaza, we can confirm that we had to secure a permit to use the Plaza, $400 for each event, plus we had to secure at liability insurance policy for both events, well over $300 each time," the Bohlanders said in their email. "The permit fee for 2011 was $455. Additionally, we had to state specifically the time frame of the events." 

I realize some readers will be thinking, "What the heck? They're Republicans. They can afford it." 

But setting political prejudices aside — if that's ever possible — one can ask if it's fair to make one group of citizens pay to use a city park for a political gathering while another group gets to use a park for free? 

Location, location, location: I asked that very question of Mayor David Coss last week. The mayor, a Democrat who presides over our nominally nonpartisan municipal governing body, said the main reason is because of where the tea-party rallies took place, as opposed to where the occupiers are occupying. 

"They're at a distant corner of the Railyard Park," Coss said. "They're not really affecting anybody." 

On the other hand, the mayor pointed out, the tea-party events took place on the Plaza, "which is the center for commerce in downtown Santa Fe." 
Santa Fe Tea Party
Tea Party on SF Plaza, 4-15-10

Coss also said he didn't waive any fees for anyone camping out at the Railyard Park because there is no fee schedule in place for that. 

The occupy group is engaging in civil disobedience, Coss asserted — civil disobedience "sort of." Can it really be called disobedience when the participants aren't seeking arrest or confrontation with the law? They have negotiated with city officials, including police. All sides have said there is a good rapport. But Coss said he's made it clear that if there is damage to the park or other problems, he will want the city to remove the protesters. He said he and other city officials are monitoring the situation. 

And so far, so good. There haven't been any more incidents at the Railyard Park since the occupy movement began their stay than were reported before, Coss said. The incidents reported haven't been serious, the mayor said — encounters with drunks, panhandling and such. 

Coss said he's proud that Santa Fe has been able to avoid the kind of violent confrontations between protesters and police seen in other cities. 

Unequal application: When told about the mayor's response, Jim Bohlander wasn't satisfied. "A public park is a public park," he said. "This is an unequal application of the law." 

He pointed out that the city's website specifies fees for using parks starting at $60 a day on weekdays and $95 a day on weekends for most parks for groups of 20 or more. (The Plaza, Cathedral Park and events involving more than 100 people are more expensive.) 

Another difference, Bohlander said, is that the tea-party events were limited to a few hours, while the occupy encampment has lasted more than a month. "I'm not saying there's a conspiracy or anything," Bohlander said. "It just seems to be hypocritical." 

Coss said that as far as he's concerned, in the absence of serious problems, Occupy Santa Fe can stay in the park. At least until next spring when gay pride events are scheduled for Railyard Park. 

"I bet they will have to pay for a permit, too," Bohlander said. 

Richardson Buys Home in Massachusetts

Former Gov. Bill Richardson has bought a "vacation" home in Chatham, Mass., according to a story yesterday in The Cape Cod Times.

LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING According to the article, written by Susan Milton, Richardson and former First Lady Barbara Richardson:

"paid $1.67 million for a house on Fox Pond and Strong Island Road, according to the deed recorded on Sept. 15.

The couple secured a $675,000 mortgage from the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank and purchased the 2,278-square-foot house from Gerald and Stephanie Coughlan of Wellesley. The Coughlans paid $1.6 million for the property on Nickerson Neck in 2004.

Most of the property's value — $1.5 million — is in the 36,200-square-foot pond-front lot, according to Chatham assessing records. The assessed value of the three-bedroom house with 4.5 bathrooms was $297,900.

"Gov. and Mrs. Richardson will use this home as a vacation home," Richardson spokesman Caitlin Wakefield emailed Friday. "Their primary residence will continue to be Santa Fe, N.M. Mrs. Richardson has longstanding ties in the Cape Cod area."
Read the whole story HERE

It's been some time since I've seen Richardson in Santa Fe. Something tells me Richardson sightings around here are going to get even more infrequent.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Trujillo Will Run Again Against Speaker Lujan

A few weeks ago I talked with House Speaker Ben Lujan about whether he planned on running again for the state House seat he's held since the 1970s.

Actually it was a short conversation. He said he'll wait to see what happens in the courts with redistricting issues before making his decision about running again.

I'd tried that day to get a comment from Carl Trujillo, who came within less than 100 votes of defeating Lujan in the 2010 Democratic primary. I wasn't successful then, but today Trujillo's campaign manager Faith McKenna emailed me to say, "Yes, Carl will be running again (as he promised following the 2010 primary)."

McKenna said Trujillo will make it official in January.

Looks like the race is on.

Disappointment of The Day

Not the mayor
I was so excited this morning when I received a press release saying that David Cross would be joining state officials in a public discussion about extending unemployment insurance before it expires on December 31.

These meetings usually are so dry, I thought, the wry comic stylings of Cross should make it a far more interesting event.

My illusions were shattered when I got a follow-up email, explaining they had just misspelled the name of Santa Fe's mayor, David Coss. Nice guy, but not nearly as entertaining as David Cross.

Anyway, the event is Thursday at noon in the Bataan Building.

Monday, December 5, 2011

While I Was Covering the Redistricting Trial, This Happened

Some folks associated with Occupy Santa Fe showed up at a meeting of the Environmental Improvement Board Monday. I don't think they were on the agenda.

(I don't know whether this was an official action of OSF or just individuals. But toward the end of their presentation, they said "We are Occupy Santa Fe. We are unstoppable. "

Former Gov's Mom Dies

The mother of former Gov. Bill Richardson died in Mexico today, according to identical posts on Richardson’s website and Facebook page.

“Maria Luisa Lopez Collada, 97, passed away peacefully today in Cuernavaca, Mexico,” the message said. “She was surrounded by family, including her son, Gov. Bill Richardson and his wife, Barbara Richardson; and her daughter Dr. Vesta Richardson.”

No further details were available Monday night.

Lopez Collada was a native of Mexico. She was the secretary of Richardson’s father, William Blaine Richardson, an American banker in Mexico City, before she married him. She traveled to Pasadena, Calif. to give birth to her son in 1947 so he would be an American citizen. The former governor spent his first 13 years in Mexico before going to a boarding school in Massachusetts.

Her husband, Richardson’s father, died in 1972.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Roundhouse Roundup: More Tales from the PedoBear Front

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Dec. 4, 2011

Last week in this column  I wrote about the “menace” of PedoBear, that cute little Internet cartoon bear that most Web denizens consider to be a tongue-in-cheek symbol of pedophilia but who some in law enforcement — including apparently Attorney General Gary King — say is a sinister mark of real live child molesters.

And apparently at least one police department in the state is confronting purveyors of PedoBear.

King’s office on the day before Thanksgiving issued a news release warning that the evil PedoBear had been spotted — in the form of car decals — in this Enchanted Land.

I compared this news release with past instances of New Mexico law enforcement spreading urban legends as true crime. Are there any actual arrests or prosecutions of actual child molesters who displayed the wicked bear? If so, I haven’t found any.

The latest favorite of "PedoBear Sympathizers"
But even more embarrassing than the attorney general seizing on this Internet joke were the number of news organizations that reported this nonsense as an actual menace. At least one Albuquerque TV anchor even advised viewers to write down the license plates of any vehicle they see sporting the PedoBear symbol and call the police.

The irreverent news site The Gawker, a leading debunker of PedoBear paranoia, had some laughs last week about this latest outbreak of PedoBear paranoia. “New Mexico Attorney General Warns Against the Molesty Charms of PedoBear,” the headline said.

But one Las Cruces business owner isn’t laughing.

C.W. Ward’s business House of Grafix, sells PedoBear decals. His latest features the bear with the logo of the Penn State football team.

Ward is a husband, a father and a soccer coach. “I sell decals of anything funny or famous from the Internet,” he said in a phone interview.

He rattled off a bunch of names — Troll Face, Mr. Pinkshirt ... I had to admit I wasn’t aware of most the names he mentioned. (When I was a lad, the only cartoon characters on car decals were wholesome icons like Mr. Natural, Rat Fink and an angry cigar-smoking woodpecker named Mr. Horsepower.)

Although he’d done nothing illegal, a few days before Thanksgiving, a Las Cruces police detective and a forensic computer examiner came by Ward’s store to talk to him about his relationship with PedoBear.

“She told me I was promoting child pornography,” Ward said of the detective. She told him that child molesters were using the symbol, he said. But the only example she gave was a guy in a PedoBear suit who was kicked out of a comics convention in San Diego last year. “She told me that he was a sex offender,” Ward said. “I said, ‘No, he wasn’t.’ ”

Indeed, last year a Tulsa, Okla., television station had to retract a statement that the ComicCon bear was a sex offender. And even if some stray pedophiles have adopted the symbol, Ward asked whether a rapist wearing a blue shirt made everyone in a blue shirt a rapist.

The police computer expert seemed to understand what PedoBear was all about, Ward said, and even told him that it was his First Amendment right to display and sell the symbol. But the detective, he said, treated him like he was a child molester himself.
House of Grafix sells this sticker too

He wasn’t arrested or charged. Still, Ward said, he felt intimidated. “With child porn, even an accusation is the death penalty.” Perhaps a slight overstatement, but having the law accuse you of promoting kiddy porn could be pretty devastating to your reputation.

But it hasn’t hurt his business, at least not yet. After an Albuquerque station showed footage of his website in its PedoBear report Monday night, Ward said he was swamped with hundreds of dollars in PedoBear orders, including an Albuquerque store that intends to give away the decals.

Note: Because I was off work most of last  week because of periodontal surgery, I wrote this column early in the week. Therefore it  didn't mention anything about the Attorney General's infamous blog doubling down on the PedoBear "threat."

When I first saw the email alert Wednesday, I thought, "Uh oh, they've come up with a case of a real Pedophile using the Pedobear symbol to hurt a real child."


Just more the same. If anyone with a PedobBear decal has ever molested a child in New Mexico (or elsewhere), we still don't know about it.

As one of my Twitter friends said, the AG doubled down on zero Pedobear evidence and came up with twice as much evidence -- zero.

Last week's column is referred to in the post, though I'm not named. If this week's column prompts another post on the AG's blog, I'll get a certificate from the International Brotherhood of PedoBear Skeptics.

My favorite line in the blog post: "... yes, we know that anyone who has the bad taste to display a Pedobear symbol is not necessarily a pedophile...emphasis on the word `necessarily.' If you are a parent of a three year old, can you really take a chance?"

No. Like I said in last week's column, make sure your kids know enough not to get in any stranger's car, no matter what decals they might be displaying.