Saturday, October 17, 2009

Time to Clean Up

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The State Constitution requires a balanced budget.

Governor Bill Richardson likes to spend money.

When Richardson came into office seven years ago, his predecessor, Gary Johnson left him a surplus.

The Legislature accommodated Richardson’s spending spree.

Richardson required the Legislature to increase the reserve fund to 10 percent from the required five percent just in case something bad happened to the economy. For those of you who might have been asleep for the past couple of years and didn’t notice; something bad happened to the economy, something really bad. A 10 percent reserve wasn’t enough by a long shot.

This past fiscal year’s budget is woefully short and the fiscal year’s budget is in no better shape.

So today is the day that the Legislature has to sit down and balance the budget, to reconcile our checkbook.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

The Governor would like to believe the total shortfall is as little as $450 million dollars while the cynics believe the number may be approaching $1 billion.

On Wednesday, Richardson told the press that he wanted the Legislature to balance the budget without touching K-12 education. He had drawn a line in the sand earlier, including Medicaid. The Legislative committees were meeting with Richardson’s Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration Katherine Miller, left, and their own number crunchers from the Legislative Finance Committee to pore over the overage of the $6 billion budget. He complained that he was presented three options. Richardson demanded a single plan.

The Governor called a special session for noon today, but after receiving a proposed single solution from the LFC he postponed the session for two hours to make a counter proposal. Richardson is known for his negotiating skills and, with his Democrat Party in firm control of the Legislature, his task of getting it his way is made a bit easier. Easier than maybe California, which recently went through a painful balancing process.

Other Cleanings

I have previously disclosed that I have provided photographic, video and political consultation to Representative Janice Arnold-Jones. She recently announced her run for the Republican Party nomination for Governor and I helped. You will find my photographs on her campaign website. My video services are also used.

My blogging colleague Ched MacQuigg of Diogenes' Six has teamed up with me and has been running my camera on our collaborative efforts to document the Legislature and provide video documentation for Arnold-Jones’ website.

When she asked if I would help, she was concerned that it might create an ethical problem for me. I told her, I would take care of it.

So this is my notice to my readers: I am a journalist, I am a commercial photographer for hire, I also happen to be politically active. Early on I knew I would be supporting Janice Arnold-Jones for whatever office she sought, and in spite of my best efforts to approach the craft of journalism impartially, I don’t want you to think I am not without a bias.

I will strive to keep my bias in check, if I don’t, you are at least aware it exists. I trust you, my readers to be able to work through the issues. Arnold-Jones and I don’t always agree on everything, so don’t jump to too many conclusions either.

If anybody has a problem with how I’ve approached this, we can talk about it.

If this doesn’t suffice some journalistic intellectual purist they can do one if two things, don’t read me out of fear that I sway you to vote for her, or hire me into some large corporate media which has it’s own political view which is protected by its house rules from allowing its employees from expressing any personal political view. The New York Times comes to mind.

There might be a third response, but I won’t offer it out of respect for my faithful readers and I suppose that anyone who is willing to question my stance will have already also disclosed their own bias.

Enough of That

I went to Santa Fe on Wednesday to cover Arnold-Jones, who called a press conference at 2 P.M. on the west side of the Capitol.

It seems that Governor announced a press availability within minutes of the Representative’s scheduled event.

Richardson answered several questions and tried to leave. He took a few more before his handler/Communications Staff Aide Caitlin Kelleher, pushed him away from the press.

The television news stations begged off on Arnold-Jones, one saying, we’d love to cover it, but you’re running for Governor.

True enough, but not fair enough. Arnold-Jones is a State Representative and is entitled to a voice from that position and though in the minority party, one of the few Republicans willing to step up and discuss the budget dilemma.

She also happens to be running for Governor, several others are also: Allen Weh, Susana Martinez, Doug Turner, and Diane Denish.

Arnold-Jones, Martinez and Denish hold elected seats. Using the logic of the TV stations, are all elected officials who are running for office now barred from having public statements reported that fall within their sphere of elected influence?

The two largest daily papers’ Capitol reporters were present, Dan Boyd, center left, of the Journal, and Steve Terrell for the New Mexican right.

KRQE’s Reporter Dave Bowman, left, grabbed a sound bite videoing Arnold-Jones that did not make it to air.

On Wednesday, the media dominating secondary story, after Richardson’s budget demands, was the candidates’ campaign financial filings.

Which means that the media is more concerned with the candidate who can raise the most money than airing the discussion of issues.

You’ll note that for the purposes of this posting, I didn’t push Arnold-Jones’ agenda.

You know bias and all….

So, Ched and I are off to Santa Fe on the RailRunner, to cover the Senate side of the Legislature with the New Mexico Independent’s new Editor Gwyneth Doland, seen here in a hopefully “better” picture than the one recently published.

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