Friday, August 29, 2008

What A Little Education Will Do For You

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is Teresa Brito Asenap PhD. speaking on the importance of education with Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barak Obama of Illinois, Aug. 18, at the Albuquerque Public Library event billed as a discussion on equal pay with working women.

Asenap told Obama how she grew up with her illiterate grand parents. Her grandmother would ask her every day how she was doing in school and what the teacher had told her. She became a successful educator because her grandmother encouraged her, Asenap said.

During the afternoon’s town hall meeting, at Asenap’s alma mater, Rio Grande High School, in the South Valley, Obama referred to her. Though he said he couldn’t remember her name, he used her story as an example in discussing what is needed in the education system; concerned parents.

Rio Grande's Principal Alfred Sanchez, center front row with grey goatee, sits before several students in the audience.

It seems someone in Obama's camp remembered the Albuquerque Public Schools Administrator's name because Asenap spoke last night in Denver as part of the American Voices Program.

Governor Bill Richardson spoke after having been bumped off Wednesday night’s schedule because former President Clinton and others exceeded their allotted time dictated by television.

New Mexico has gotten a fair amount of attention at the Democratic National Convention in Denver including a speeches by former Attorney General and Co-Chair of the Party’s Platform Committee Patsy Madrid and Rep. Tom Udall and U.S. Senate candidate Tom Udall.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Back in June, during his third of four visits to the state during this campaign, Obama held a town hall meeting with working women as he listened to first lady Barbara Richardson. It was shortly after he clinched the nomination from his final rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton. Many of her supporters were upset and the Obama campaign was trying to address women directly.

Lt Gov. Diane Denish, left, who had been a strong supporter of Clinton, once Richardson resigned his candidacy, introduced Obama to about 30 employees of the local Flying Star Café.

I noticed that the group represented a narrow segment of women who work for owner Jean Bernstein, above.

Other than when I go to my local Flying Star Café, the mostly young group didn’t resemble the women I know. I was going to write about that, but a couple of collogues thought I was making something out of nothing. I asked several of the employees of the Café if they had the opportunity to go to the Obama event; they hadn’t. The story I got was that the women were told there were two criteria for being selected to attend; their political views and affiliation were not one of them, they had to make less than $40,000 and have at least one child.

Then last week, Obama held another session, this time with 50 women; they looked like those I thought missing at the Café event.

However, the two meetings with women seemed to make me wonder what Albuquerque men might have had to offer.

No doubt Asenap's grand parents would have believed her education has taken her to great heights.

I offer Peter St. Cyr's "What's the Word" for some of the best blog coverage from Denver.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monahan’s 300th

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is Joe Monahan outside of Yanni’s restaurant this spring while waiting for a couple of his blog contributors to join him for dinner. He is in his natural state; phone to his ear talking politics.

I’ve provided photographs to New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan for two years, two weeks and two days and had my 300th original picture published on his site today. More than 80 of those images have been posted more than once.

I’ve referenced him a dozen times on this site:

Aug. 21, 2006, Madrid, Pelosi… Scalia?

Oct. 13, 2006, Governor’s Image

Nov. 5, 2006, Road Runner’s Confusion

Dec. 5, 2006, Can We See Laura?

Jan. 24, 2007, Goodbye ABQPAC. Hello, What Do You Call Yourself?

Feb. 19, 2007, Just Getting Older

April 16, 2007, Perp Walk? Not Quite!

Oct. 9, 2007, Busy Busy Busy…

Oct. 16, 2007, Round ‘em Up, Put ‘em in the Political Corral

Nov. 7, 2007, Political Corral Getting Crowded

Dec. 20, 2007, Shades of ‘My Weekly Reader’

Jan. 30, 2008, Let it Spin, Crash and Burn, or There Are No Rules...

April 30, 2008, Thanks Marjorie

May 15, 2008, For Pete’s Sake!

May 24, 2008, Ethical Public Service Act? Part 1

July 13, 2008, Trouble in Lobo Land. It’s “NOT” Irrelevant

July 28, 2008, Big Red: Ed Pennybacker

Aug. 23, 2008, National NEWS Flash; It’s Biden!

We have a symbiotic relationship; he deals with politics from a personal level, rather than from the policy commentary. I, put a face on the political names.

I consider what Monahan does to being the provider of “Water-Cooler” fodder. He's been blogging for almost five years.

He has four levels of expertise that he displays. Among others, he understands: campaign financing, media placement, polling, and he knows just about everybody involved in politics.

He has an extensive roll-a-dex and an even wider range of people with whom he talks. He's known throughout New Mexico and has good contacts in Washington, D.C.

Monahan often times does not name his sources for a variety of reasons, but he does not publish anonymous tips. He will, like any good journalist, work from anonymous tips, verifying them and assuring the validity of his stories.

Monahan calls his unnamed sources, “Alligators” after the old line that, “It’s hard to remember that your goal is to drain the swamp, when you’re up to your ass in alligators.” In politics, or as he likes to phrase it in Spanish, “La Politica;” someone’s always biting at your butt.

Originally from central Pennsylvania, Monahan is a University of New Mexico Journalism school graduate. He started in radio on the campus station, KUNM FM, then worked for KRKE AM. He was news director at KRZY AM. Those were the days before deregulation, when radio news had four or five person staffs doing local news. He was nicknamed “Joe on the Go,” for his field reporting.

Monahan knows the other side of news. From 1979 to 1984, he was press secretary to Republican New Mexico Congressman Manuel Lujan Jr. on Capitol Hill. Seen here, with Lujan, left and Bob Gurule, right, at Sen. Pete Domenici's announcement that he would seek a seventh term only months before he withdrew due to health concerns.

In 1984, Sen. Pete Domenici recruited his top aide, Lou Gallegos, to run against then-freshman US Congressman Bill Richardson. Monahan was press secretary for Gallegos‘ campaign, which Richardson won.

Monahan returned to New Mexico and worked in the Santa Fe radio market before he was assignment editor at KGGM TV.

Monahan helped Martin Chávez, during his 1993 mayoral transition.

He now owns a public relations company with private clients and does pro bono work for some non-profit organization. Through his public relations company, Monahan has been a spokesman for the Committee to Protect Dona Ana County. His association with the committee was criticized because controversial owner of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, Stan Fulton was a member of the committee. Fulton was also the single largest individual contributor to Patricia Madrid's Justice for America; a New Mexico state non-congressional political action committee. Justice for America was formed by the former Attorney General, prior to her unsuccessful 2006 run for U.S. House against Rep Heather Wilson.

Monahan has hosted election night coverage radio show on KANW FM since 1988. Lobbyist Scott Scanland has been a regular guest for a number of years.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

I have been providing political portraits for Monahan’s blog for a couple of years now.

Business could always be better. However, like any publication, photographers want more and bigger pictures run while editors are always worried about space. No difference here. I mutter and spit when Monahan writes a harsh piece and does not use a picture from my archives to illustrate the topic of his writing.

The first images I sent to him was this triptych of former State Senator and twice Democratic US Congressional candidate and now lobbyist Richard Romero. Monahan and I were discussing working together at a sidewalk café near Romero’s office in the spring of 2006. As he walked by Monahan asked Romero, what advice he would offer Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who was the Democratic candidate running against Rep. Heather Wilson. Romero’s advice was to hit Wilson early and hard and not let up, because it is exactly what she would do and if Wilson’s opponent had to back up she controlled the debate. Romero didn’t say he didn’t want his picture taken, but he playfully held up his notebook to block my view. It was to be my first “Mutter-mutter, spit-spit moment with Monahan, as he did not include the prophetic comment or run the photographs.

Romero knew Wilson well, as she had shown in her first 2006 TV ad and she comes out negative, asking why has her primary Senate opponent, Rep. Steve Pearce gone negative? Pearce had at least run an introduction ad before he went after her.

So for over two years we have been brining political junkies a unique view of what Monahan calls, La Politica.

This week and next are simply a clutch as the Democrats and Republicans hold their respective conventions. After Labor Day, the politics will take a step up. The press pool has already been crowded in the Presidential race. Yet, I suspect that because there is an unprecedented amount of money in the process the coverage and advertising will even be more intense.

“Monahan writes rumors,” said State Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colón, above, during the vote count of the February caucus, “so why do we always read him first?”

It’s not all rumors; oft times it’s a unique viewpoint that is brought forward or a trial balloon that some political operative wishes to test. He uses a journalistic style, but is a blogger. He doesn't attend too many political events, but through his sources he has incredible details to relate.

Monahan’s take: enlightens many, confuses some, and angers others. He is accused by the full political spectrum of being favorable towards various camps’ opponents when he discloses some embarrassing fact. I know some conservative bloggers who laid the term “Dem blogger” on him while some progressives say he a Republican attack dog.

However, I can assure you that the best test of the accuracy of Monahan’s point of view is when both sides seem equally displeased, or more accurately “pissed off” with him.

I’m going to stick around as Monahan and I have some plans of our own to take his blog to another dimension.

So, stand by for Joe.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Get a Room!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

State Legislators gathered for a special session called by Gov. Bill Richardson Friday August 15. It was, as predicted, a strange affair.

This bronze statute in front of the Capitol of boys and girls tussling over something is depictive of what happened in the chambers.

Though there was no legislation specifically involving their issue, lobbyists for the Southwestern Biofuels Association gathered in the rotunda, as many groups do, for a pep rally before seeking out legislators with their message.

This is the bill book on the House side; it has nothing in it.

Why? Because the administration didn’t have it’s act together.

The Proclamation calling lawmakers into the special session wasn’t signed until 10:00 a.m., only two hours before the call. Then it wasn’t until mid afternoon that a package of the Governor’s proposals made their way to the floors.

So the session opened with the usual perfunctory rituals then hit a wall of inactivity.

Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert, left greets Senators James Taylor with Carroll H. Leavell, rear, and Jerry Ortiz y Pino, right, as a committee which reported to the House. "The Senate is Sine... in session and prepared to conduct business...," Taylor announced, to great laughter.

Sine Die, Latin, having several meanings; in this case, to adjourn, was bantered about without saying both words together on Friday.

By Sunday, the members were pretty much in open rebellion. Loyal Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, seen here on Friday nervously wringing his hands before speaking, were questioning the need for a special session and calling it a political grandstanding move on the part of the Governor.

The House Democrats called a caucus, most likely to make sure none of them would wander off and lose a quorum.

Rep. Kiki Savaarda, seated center in right picture, chaired the Appropriations and Finance committee, while Majority Leader Rep. W. Ken Martinez, left picture, shepherded House Bill 1 through the committee and on the floor. HB1, or as it is known as "the feed bill," is the one bill always generated by the body and not always coming from the Governor that pays for the session.

On the Senate side, when the bills arrived they were distributed to committees by Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

Sen. Linda Lopez joked that she could make a motion that would end everything; a motion to Sine Die. Egged on by several colleagues Lopez, left, sat down as Sen. David Ulibarri, right, and others got a good laugh.

Rep. Ray Begaye spoke with Minority Leader Tom Taylor before the floor vote on HB 1, the feed bill. Begaye wanted to make sure he got per diem if the Senate should sine die and the house might be out of session during the statutory three-day waiting period if the House did not also adjourn. That is what happened during last year’s special session. It seems that Begaye had not collected his per diem, as he might have been allowed to do, and he suffered some personal economic loss on housing in Santa Fe. Begaye, did not introduce an amendment after being assured that he would be entitled to payment if the Senate pulled the same stunt. No word on whether Begaye can put in a voucher for last year's session.

The House finally presented just over a dozen pieces of proposed legislation that Speaker of the House Ben Lujan assigned to various committees.

The media, as represented here by KRQE's Michael Herzenberg doing a live shot from the House gallery, dutifully reported the events.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

This is the Senate chamber after it went into recess. The galleries were empty, the print media gallery abandoned, and only three members were on the floor: Senators Pete Campos, top, a Democrat, and two Republicans; Rod Adair, left, and Steve Komadina, right.

Komadina was working on his laptop, talking on his cellular phone and chatting with Adair. The topic was some sort of survey that Komadina was either answering or was creating for his constituency.

Adair was challenging Komadina on some of his votes in the past; particularly stem-cell research. An obstetrician, Komadina told Adair that the science had changed and he supported the use of stem cells in research. Adair responded, “Never surrender to the demagogues.”

Later in the afternoon Adair had nothing better to do after the Senate went into recess than go over and bug Representatives Candy Spence Ezzell on the House floor, while it was still in session.

A number of legislature will not be returning, they include: Representatives House Minority Whip Dan Foley, left, of Roswell, who was defeated by Dennis Kintigh in the Republican primary, Tom Swisstack, center, who was elected and is serving as Mayor of Rio Rancho, Albuquerque’s Dan Silva, right, who was defeated by Eleanor Chávez, Senators James Taylor and Shannon Robinson were defeated by Eric Griego and Tim Keller in the democratic primary,

Silva, Taylor, and Robinson filed a lawsuit in State District Court in Albuquerque claiming that a number of organizations improperly used their non-profit, tax-exempt status, under the guise of providing voter education, to intercede and improperly influence the out come of their elections. The nonprofits have denied the assertions in the suit. However, Attorney General Gary King has instructed Secretary of State Mary Herrera to order, at least one of the non-profit organizations, to register and file reports, including providing non tax deductible contributors’ information, as a political action and to change their tax-exempt status.

My Take

Adair is considered by many, including some members of his own party, of taking harsh stands against anyone who disagrees with him; some even consider him to be a demagogue.

I am discouraged by the Senators behavior on the floor. If they do not recognize that the floor, whether in session or not, is an inappropriate place to strategize a political campaign, then there is little hope for any ethical conduct, let along successful legislation.

All they had to do was pick up their stuff and go to their office and close the door. However, they would rather screw around in public.

A State Policeman strides across the Great Seal in the rotunda. According to the docents, one should not step on the seal out of respect. Of course only docents and those who are willing to show great respect don't walk on the seal.

During the afternoon session, there was a mighty storm that passed through; not inside, but a fair amount of rain fell on the City Different. Inside, mostly wind. The rain cleared the air and made for an interesting display of lingering thunderhead clouds in the setting sun.

The one sign of legislative progress, actually from a couple of year's ago, is the construction on a long-awaited and much needed parking garage. Of course such a structure, though designated for the Capitol, will undoubtedly be filled with State workers' vehicles. One knows how nature abhors a vacuum. Come next session, parking will still be a problem.

A a yellow rose in front of the west side of the Capitol accurately reflect the fact that Santa Fe was actually part of the Republic of Texas between the time it was independent and the end of the Mexican-American war? You can start quite a bar fight in many parts of New Mexico stating that fact. However, the flowers look nice, even if it does make you want to hum, "the Yellow Rose of Texas."

A rose by any other name, just like a special session, sometimes stinks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

National NEWS Flash; It’s Biden!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Illinois’ junior United States Senator and presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barak Obama, right, selected a fellow Senator, six-term Joe Biden, left, of Delaware as his vice-presidential running mate late Friday night according to the Associated Press quoting multiple Democratic officials.

The Obama campaign has not confirmed the story and is poised to simultaneously text message contributors before the official announcement Saturday in Springfield, Ill.

The choice of Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations, and Judiciary Committees, put an end to the speculation that Obama would choose one of his closest former challengers. Biden had been in the Democratic primary race but faired poorly. Senator Hilary Clinton of New York, left, was Obama's strongest rival. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, right introducing the Senator as the next President of the United State when Obama was in Albuquerque Monday at Rio Grande High School town hall meeting.

Richardson confirmed receiving a call Friday evening from Obama telling him he was not the vice-presidential choice according to Joe Monahan.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Richardson, seen third from the left, with fellow Democrats: Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez, New Mexico junior Sen. Jeff Bingaman, and on the Governor’s, right, New Mexico Rep. Tom Udall the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Republican Sen. Pete Domenici. Richardson seemed very relaxed as he stretched his feet out beyond the curtain in front of him.

Maybe it’s just, “the agony of da feet?”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

With a special session scheduled to open this Friday, the politics are super heated. the lobbyist's benches' await. Gov. Bill Richardson based his call to the legislature on projected revenues from surplus gas and oil tax. However, the fluctuation of the price of sub-terrain resources has devalued the anticipated available money.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

(Click on image to enlarge.)

This is a political triptych of Gov. Richardson and State Sen. Cisco McSorley after a town hall meeting Fri., Aug. 8, on what to do with the State Fair, since the racetrack is being moved.

After Richardson assured the crowd of closer to 150 (than the 250 the Journal reported) that while he was governor, the fair would not move, McSorley buttonholed Richardson, backstage, speaking softly. Then McSorley raised his voice saying, "They're ready to kill you!"

That caught everyone's attention. Whoever was holding a curtain, let it slip as Richardson asked, "The House?"

As the curtain was pulled back, McSorley said, "No the Senate."

McSorley then whispered in Richardson's ear and as he pulled away, he spoke louder, "Forty million will do it."

I followed Richardson and McSorley was gone.

Journalistically, I should have the other details. Attempts to reach McSorley failed. His phone does not have an answering machine, but turns into a fax machine. Therefore, I don't know what $40 million will keep Richardson alive?

Photographically, the story is complete.

I would entitle the triptych after the Wizard of Oz' statement, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in the land of enchantment?


Moments after posting this piece, Associated Press Writer Andrew DeMillo, reported from Little Rock Ark. that “A man barged into the Arkansas Democratic headquarters and opened fire Wednesday, fatally shooting the state party chairman before speeding off in his pickup. Police later shot and killed the suspect after a 30-mile chase.”

To assuage any sensitivity that my reporting might have caused, I have no reason to believe McSorley’s comments would denote any threat of actual violence.

Monday, August 11, 2008

T.E. Johnson

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Retired Albuquerque Police Sergeant Thomas Edward Johnson died at his Moriarty, N.M. home, Aug. 6. He was 75.

Johnson, right, supervises a 1978 accident with injuries scene, as Officer Robert Candelaria, left, Fire Rescue and Ambulance personnel tend to an unseen injured occupant.

Known to his family as Ed, at APD he was “T.E.” but referred to as “the pig farmer.” During the spring, he would bring agricultural reports to briefings. It was not uncommon for him to finish reading the blotter of crime in the area, orders from on high and memos; then he’d announce “a blessed event,” that his barnyard’s population had grown with the birth of sheep or pigs.

He was a big man, one of the changing breed of police. He had been hired at the end of what some called the dinosaur-age. It was a time before the social and civil rights movements of the early 60’s, the Supreme Court’s Miranda Decision, and later, Richard Nixon’s “War on Crime.” The federal government threw a lot of money at law enforcement in the early 70s and it raised standards. New recruits were either already college educated or took advantage of funding to go to school. It rapidly changed the face of policing. Johnson tried to keep up, but seemed to find it difficult.

He and I had a long history dating back to 1972. I worked for him on the Westside of town beginning in January of 1979. We didn’t always see eye to eye. I moved on and he retired shortly thereafter.

He'd served the Albuquerque community for 21 years.