Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zanetti Moving to Washington State to become CEO

New Mexico Republican Greg Zanetti, who dropped out of the 2010 Governor's race on July 17th, told us today that he’s moving out of state with his wife Teresa and two teenage children.

The New Mexico Brigadier General and investment portfolio manager said he’s been hired as the CEO for Los Arboles Management, LLC a real estate company that provides asset management services for it's clients.

Zanetti, who we last saw at the Albuquerque Tea Rally in April, begins the new job next Wednesday.

Zanetti said he was hired by his long-time high school friend Michael Larson to manage Los Arboles’ considerable portfolio. Larson is the chief investment officer for Bill Gates Investments (BGI) which oversees finances at the world's largest foundation.

After serving in the NM National Guard for 29 years, Zanetti told us he is retiring for the guard in December, and will be back in the state sometime in the late fall or early winter to attend his retirement celebration.

He said after a year long deployment to Guantanamo Bay he does not expect to be deployed, or called up again, before his retirement.

Zanetti said he and his new boss both graduated from Valley High School in 1976.

“We were gym rats, but not good enough to make the basketball team,” Zanetti said about his friend. “We spent a lot of time shooting hoops.”

The timing of Zanetti's move is in part centered around his two children, aged 14 and 16, who he wants to get settled into school at the beginning of the new term.

Four gubernatorial candidates are either in or considering running for the Republican Party nominations in 2010 including, State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, former NM GOP Party Chairman Allen Weh, Public Relations agency owner Doug Turner, and Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez.

"It's Over. There's Nothing." Governor Richardson Said to be Cleared by Top DOJ Officials

A Federal probe into pay-to-play allegations in New Mexico is reportedly over. Governor Bill Richardson and key members of his staff appear to have been cleared by officials at the U.S. Justice Department.

A year long grand jury panel had been reviewing lucrative bond deals awarded to CDR Executive David Rubin, a Richardson presidential campaign donor. Those bonds funded New Mexico Transportation projects.

A Spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Albuquerque did not return our calls immediately, and Governor Richardson's spokesman Gilbert Gallegos was also unavailable for comment, but a source of the Associated Press said, "It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington."

The investigation derailed Richardson's appointment by President Barack Obama to become U.S. Commerce Secretary.

For Pete's Sake:

Speculation about the clearance began two weeks ago when Richardson hosted two North Korean diplomats from the United Nations in New York, and again this week when Richardson made a trade mission to Cuba.

Richardson has always had the right to be presumed innocent and this formal clearance is expected to re-energize the Richardson administration.

The Governor has told us that he wants to make education the focus of his last year and a half in office. Of course, he may need to use some of that energy in balancing the state's budget, which is facing a $433 million dollar deficit.

We expect to see even more photos, like the big one at the top of this report, showing Governor Richardson with his "chin up."

Top Photo Credit: MG Bralley

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kennedy Remembered in New Mexico for Supporting Mental Health Care

Updated 10:19a

Tributes are pouring in on both sides of the aisle as American's wake up to the news that Senator Edward Kennedy died late last night after a year long battle with brain cancer. The Massachusetts senator fought right up until the end for health care reform, and now that battle will continue on capitol hill without him.

Kennedy, an early supporter of President Barack Obama's candidacy, campaigned in New Mexico for the then Illinois Senator in January 2008.

Photographer and blog commentator Mark Bralley captured this image of Kennedy who worked closely with New Mexico's Pete Domenici in the Senate. Their 10-year joint effort led to passage of the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, which for the first time required insurance companies to cover mental illness on a par with physical illness.

This morning Domenici said Kennedy's death is especially sad to him:
The nation has lost a good and great man, and I have lost a close and valued friend. He was my friend, my colleague, and my ally in many legislative battles during our 36 years together in the Senate. His commitment to Mental Health Parity legislation, in my judgment was the key factor in that concept becoming law in the 110th Congress. Even battling his cancer, he would travel to the Capitol to move that legislation forward when I asked him to.
From civil rights and immigration, his earliest concerns, to education and workers rights, there were few major pieces of social legislation that did not bear his mark over his 47 years in the Senate.

Governor Bill Richardson, who studied in Boston, learned about Kennedy's death in Cuba, where he is on a trade mission. Richardson said Kennedy was a gladiator for protecting people who need help.
He was probably responsible for my first victory in Congress, and became a political mentor of mine. His legacy is one of legislative excellence, compassion and as a protector for those who have been left behind.
Senator Jeff Bingaman said Kennedy's extraordinary list of accomplishments were not just a function of his passion and ideals, but also his pragmatism and ability to reach across party lines to get done what was needed for the good of the country.
His leadership will be particularly missed in the Senate at this critical time for health care reform. The American people have lost a great champion, but his legacy will endure.

Domenici said he respected Kennedy's willingness to work for compromise:
I always knew from our earliest interaction that I could trust his word, that he would dedicate himself with all of his energy to any cause that he championed, and that he was willing to work for compromise to get the legislative work done, but would never compromise his fundamental beliefs. His help behind the scenes on many issues from fiscal policy to national health care policy - often made the difference between legislative success and failure.
The issue the lifelong Democrat called the cause of his life was healthcare. It was what kept him on the line to the Capitol through months of medical treatment during the past 15 months. Of course he did not live to see his latest bid for comprehensive healthcare insurance enacted into law.

Freshman U.S. Senator Tom Udall said Kennedy committed his life to fighting for Americans who could not fight for themselves:
His tireless drive to provide access to health care, civil rights, and improve education for all will forever serve as a model for true public service.
Even New Mexico's Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish offered her toughts on the Massachuetts Senator's passing.
Ted Kennedy was sent to the Senate by the people of Massachusetts, but he was a public servant for the entire nation. The Senator was a true statesman in every sense of the word. His legislative accomplishments have bettered the lives of countless American workers, children and families. He championed the cause of female athletes through Title 9. And he fought for health care for American families every day, even in his closing days. Senator Kennedy was a man who gave his last full measure of devotion to the American people.

For Pete's Sake

After all the memorials and tributes, perhaps the Democrats will decide to truly honor Kennedy, by knuckling down and passing a comprehensive health care plan this fall.

His spirit, patriotism and dedication to realizing a greater vision for America will be missed.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School Changing Name to Honor Alice King

The APS Board of Education's Policy Committee voted this morning to allow the North Albuquerque Cooperative Community Charter School to change its name to the Alice King Community School.

King, was the wife of three-term governor Bruce King, died last December at the age of 78 after dedicated most of her public service life as an advocate for the state's children.

In December, Attorney General Gary King told Kate Nash at the SF New Mexican, "She cared about all the other kids in New Mexico. She spent most of her time and energy working to improve kids' lives in New Mexico."

King, who was a major supporter of the Carrie Tingley Children's Hospital, was chairwoman of the New Mexico Children's Trust Fund. She is also credited with creating the state's Children, Youth and Families Department.

"No one could have cared more for all New Mexico children and all of our citizens," King told Nash.

Nash wrote in her tribute article to King that the former first lady "forged her own role in the governor's office man sion and gave new Mexico a fresh focus on families.

for Pete's Sake - I remember Mrs. King. When I was in elementary school in Albuquerque we went on a field trip to the state capitol and then the governor's mansion. It was my first time to Santa Fe and I remember her personally scooping ice cream and giving us all ice cream cones.

Her personal touch is remembered and appreciated. Now her name will be a living legacy for many school kids for decades to come.

[hap tip Ched MacQuigg, Diogenes' Six]

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King Honored for Animal Advocacy

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King was honored as Animal Advocate of the Year for his work with the New Mexico Animal Cruelty Task Force on Monday night in Albuquerque.

King discussed his work with the task force, accomplishments in enforcing the State's cockfighting ban and interactions with animal hoarders in New Mexico.

King said he was receiving the award on behalf of all people working in law enforcement and credited Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez for prosecuting dog fighting cases in Southern New Mexico.

King said when law enforcement finds people violating animal cruelty laws, they often find drugs, gambling and even prostitution.

"It's not just an issue of protecting animals, it's an issue of protecting our society and making it a more civil," King said.

He told the crowd he realizes that some people want to block new laws regarding cockfighting with lawsuits, but that push back motivates him to work harder. He said the award given to him is not the end of the relationship with the task force, but just the beginning.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Governor Planning Three Percent Budget Cuts

As the New Mexico Independent has been reporting the State of New Mexico is facing budget shortfalls this year and so the Governor is planning a special session in Santa Fe. He wants lawmakers to reconcile the state mandated balanced budget.

Today, Governor Bill Richardson directed state agencies to identify an additional three percent of their current year operating budgets for potential reduction in the special session – on top of the cuts implemented in this year’s budget.

The budget cuts are part of the governor’s broader plan to balance the budget, which will be unveiled in early September and come just days after two other state's, Rhode Island and Missouri, unveiled their own budget cutting measures.

Richardson said he wants other branches of state government not under his direct control and other elected officials offices to present plans to cut budgets by up to 3 percent.

Richardson will present the budget-balancing plan to an executive-legislative working group that is being formed to negotiate ideas prior to a special session the Governor will probably call in October.

The Governor said his plan will not increase taxes and will not significantly impact services to the public:
We will all have to make additional sacrifices, but I believe we can close the existing budget gap in a fiscally responsible way, without increasing taxes. The purpose of submitting my plan is simply to start the discussion. Nothing is etched in stone. I welcome the Legislature’s input.
Five members of the executive branch were appointed by the Governor to the working group: Finance & Administration Secretary Katherine Miller, Taxation & Revenue Secretary Rick Homans, Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Witt, Deputy Chief of Staff Paul Ritzma and Deputy Secretary of Finance & Administration Dannette Burch.

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Governor Richardson on Trade Mission to Cuba

Governor Bill Richardson is traveling to Havana, Cuba, today as part of a trade mission designed to capitalize on potential agricultural and cultural partnerships between Cuba and New Mexico. The delegation will market New Mexico agricultural products and plant the seeds for possible cultural exchanges in the future.

The mission’s primary objective will be to promote the sale of New Mexico agricultural products. Under a provision of the US Treasury Department Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), states are authorized to sell agricultural, medical and IT products in Cuba on a cash basis. Since 2000, a total of 42 other states have participated in similar trade missions to Cuba with total sales of more than $3 billion. The mission will include meetings with officials from Alimport, which is the Cuban Government agency responsible for agricultural commerce.

Accompanying Gov. Richardson to Cuba will be state Agriculture Department Secretary Miley Gonzalez, Cultural Affairs Secretary Stuart Ashman, Katherine Miller, Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration, and Gilbert Gallegos, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

Governor Richardson is paying for all of his own expenses during the trip. The delegation will return to New Mexico on Friday.

This will be New Mexico’s third mission to Cuba to promote its agricultural goods. The first took place in 2007 and was led by then-Congressman Tom Udall; the second in 2008 led by Cultural Affairs Secretary Ashman.

The Art Museum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center is bringing a major exhibition on contemporary Cuban art to New Mexico. Confluencias Inside: Arte Cubano Contemporáneo provides an exciting overview of what is happening now with significant Cuban artists and various media. The exhibition, which opens at the NHCC on September 13 and runs through May 16, 2010, includes approximately 100 works by 40 artists working inside Cuba.

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Radio Ad Encourages Senator Bingaman to Stick with Public Option Support

On Monday, ahead of the New Mexico First Healthcare Town Hall forum at the Albuquerque Convention Center, which features Senator Jeff Bingaman, the Center for Civic Policy released a radio ad that highlights Bingaman’s critical role in the ongoing debate about healthcare reform.

The group said their buying the ad time because of Bingaman's influential role on the “gang of six” which is working on a bipartisan proposal in the Senate Finance Committee.

Editor's Note: The release does not say how much money is being budgeted for the buy, nor does the release indicate what stations or markets the ad is being aired in.

From a News Release:

A strong public option would provide a competitive alternative to private insurance, giving New Mexicans a choice in their health care coverage. Currently, insurance companies are negotiating for a provision that would replace the public option with a cooperative proposal. However, co-ops would not have the power to negotiate lower prices for consumers, and therefore would not be able to compete with their larger, private insurance counterparts.

“We appreciate Senator Bingaman’s support for the public option. We want to make sure he continues to negotiate on behalf of New Mexicans who are sick and tired of rising health insurance premiums,” said Matt Brix, Policy Director at the Center for Civic Policy.

Brix added, “Over the last decade, premiums have increased by over 100%. Now is not the time to cave in to the demands of health insurance industry.”

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Arnold-Jones Plans Saturday Announcement

It was a busy Sunday in what New Mexico Political Blogger Joe Monahan calls "La Politica."

On Sunday morning Democrat Lawrence Rael officially announced he was entering the crowded race for Lieutenant Governor, and on Sunday afternoon, State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones used her Facebook Page to announce her plans to formally enter the Republican race for Governor in 2010.

Arnold-Jones said her announcement/rally will be held at the Sheraton Hotel (Uptown), on Saturday, August 30th. The two hour event event is open to the public and begins at 4pm.

Arnold-Jones, who has been exploring her options since July, will face Albuquerque PR operative Doug Turner, Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez. Former GOP Chairman Allen Weh, who announced his exploratory committee on May 5th, has been traveling the state, but has not formally announced.

Former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson, who spent July in Africa, told 770KKOB Morning Show Host Bob Clark earlier this month, that she has not ruled out running for Governor. New Mexico National Guard Brigadier General Greg Zanetti dropped out of the race on July 17th.

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Rael Makes It Official, He's Running for Lieutenant Governor

On Sunday, Lawrence Rael, Executive Director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), formally announced his candidacy for the office of Lieutenant Governor for the State of New Mexico.

Rael, made the announcement at the Albuquerque Isotopes baseball park at 5:30pm. He chose the "lab" because he believes the park is a testament to his long public service career. He served three consecutive mayoral administrations and was responsible for bringing baseball back to the Duke City after the Albuquerque Dukes left town.

He told us he's prepared to become president of the senate if he's elected because he knows how to balance billion dollar budgets, bring people together and how to make hard decisions.

Rael told us his top issue will be education and reducing the high dropout rates in the state. He also said that he understands that government officials have to earn back the public trust by acting ethically.

Rael said he "politely" disagrees with one of his opponents about rolling out ethics reforms incrementally. "If you want to be a leader, then you have to lead," said Rael.

Rael faces a crowded field for the 2010 Democratic Party nomination. Former party chairman Brain Colon is preparing to enter the race and has a fundraiser planned for August 31st at the Hotel ABQ. State Senators Linda Lopez and Gerald Ortiz y Pino have already started campaigning. Freshman Senator Tim Eichenberg is also traveling the state exploring his options for the race. Last week former Santa Rosa Mayor Joe Campos said he was running and Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano has been in the race for months. Military veteran Matthew Padilla also announced he's seeking the nomination. And we've heard former New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham is also looking at the race.

All the candidates will be competing for at least 20 percent of the vote, at next year's pre-primary nomination convention, to automatically be placed on the June primary ballot. Candiates with less than 20 percent will have to gather enough qualifying signatures to be added to the ballot.

Rael, who's has been in public service in New Mexico for 25 years, said the decision to run for Lieutenant Governor was influenced by the support he has received from people around the state and from some early fundraisers.

Rael said he's running because he understands the state is facing tremendous challenges, but that he also see opportunities for new leaders they can trust:
I am running for Lieutenant Governor because New Mexicans need a leader they can trust who has a proven track record and a demonstrated ability to bring people together to tackle problems and provide real solutions,” Rael said. “I believe that I have shown that leadership, and that together we can build a better New Mexico.
Rael served as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation under former New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya and as an Aide to Senator Jeff Bingaman. He also served as Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque through three successive mayoral terms. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, a multi-county organization that assists in a variety of planning services ranging from transportation and land-use to workforce and economic development.

As a city administrator, Rael said projects he spearheaded created results for New Mexican families:
We successfully built programs that revitalized educational and family-oriented facilities such as Balloon Fiesta Park, Explora Science Center, the Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanic Gardens, and the Isotopes Baseball Park.
More recently as Executive Director of the MRCOG, Rael was the driving force behind the New Mexico Rail Runner Express. The New Mexico Rail Runner Express has become the fastest start-up of a commuter rail project in the country in the last 20 years. The project required working with more than 19 tribal and county governments, and creating partnerships necessary for the New Mexico Rail Runner Express’ successful completion. The Rail Runner demonstrates Rael’s ability to build consensus while respecting the diverse cultures of New Mexico.

For more information or to be part of Rael’s campaign for Lt. Governor please visit

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