« September 2007 | Main | November 2007 »

Friday, October 26, 2007

NM-Sen Race: Marty Chavez Disses Tom Udall, Others

Anyone else shocked and dismayed that Mayor Marty Chavez has the nerve to paint Rep. Tom Udall -- one of the most respected and widely popular political figures in the state -- as a fringe left candidate? In an interview with Las Cruces blogger Heath Haussamen, Chavez is quoted as follows commenting on the Dem primary race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico:

He [Chavez] also said he is confident he would defeat Udall in a primary. "Philosophically, he's so far to the left," Chavez said. "I'd rather not have him in the race, but that's a challenge I'd not shy away from."

Despite serious misgivings about Chavez's primary run on the part of many Democrats -- high and low -- he comes across as supremely confident he can beat anyone because, well, he's "moderate" Marty Chavez and any other baggage he carries is apparently irrelevant:

"I feel very strongly that this is going to be a Democratic pickup and I'm going to be that Democrat, because I'm a moderate Democrat," Chavez said. "I think the Republicans are more afraid of me than some others."

... He also said he isn't concerned about U.S. Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce, the two Republicans who are running. He said Wilson "is in trouble" because she's damaged from the 2006 election and the U.S. attorney scandal, and Pearce - who he called the likely winner of the GOP primary - "is way outside the mainstream."

In contrast, a statewide SurveyUSA poll, conducted for Albuquerque's KOB-TV from October 5-7, 2007, shows Pearce 21 points over Chavez and Wilson besting Chavez by four. The poll also has Pearce losing to Tom Udall by 18 points, as well as Wilson losing to Udall by 18 points. Seems that according to those polled anyway, it's Chavez who's outside the mainstream in some way.

Chavez also said he's "not concerned" about running against popular Lt. Gov. Diane Denish in the Dem Senate primary, should she decide to enter the race:

Chavez said he isn't worried. Denish has already raised more than $1 million for a 2010 gubernatorial run, and with Chavez abandoning his gubernatorial bid to instead run for Senate, he said it wouldn't make sense for her to enter the race. He said he is "not concerned" even if she does enter the race.

In addition, Chavez is out of step with those who believe that Albuquerque's recent municipal election, where the candidates he backed lost miserably, was a meaningful gauge of his current popularity:

Chavez said he doesn't "take much" from the results of the city election because turnout was only 9 percent.

... "I have legitimate progressive credentials, but I am pro-business," Chavez said, adding he believes the two can go together.

Marty doesn't seem to get that there's a big difference between being supportive of local business interests and giving away the store to sprawl developers and other big donors while claiming to be "progressive" and "green." There's also a big difference between Dems respected by New Mexicans for their integrity and fair play, no matter what their political stripe, and those who too often come across as concerned only with maximizing their own power by any means necessary.

To read our previous posts on the 2008 U.S. Senate race in New Mexico, visit our archive.

October 26, 2007 at 03:03 PM in 2008 NM Senate Race | Permalink | Comments (15)

North Campus Meeting to Discuss Alternatives to UNM Golf Course Development

Golf

Stung by the University of New Mexico's aggressive pursuit of a retirement village development on UNM's North Golf Course ­after assurances in April from Acting UNM President David Harris that there were no development plans, the North Campus Neighborhood Association has called a meeting to be held at 5:00 PM on October 28 to form an action plan. The meeting will be in Room 2401 of the UNM Law School, 1117 Stanford NE in Albuquerque, which adjoins the course.

"The University in public and private meetings has repeatedly said they had no plans to develop the golf course. But last week we learned about a plan that would eat up two thirds of the existing UNM North Golf Course," said neighborhood association president Sara Koplik. "This plan does not value the multiple benefits of the course, which is really Albuquerque¹s Central Park. It's the People's Course -- affordable, centrally located and popular with the golfing public, but also used extensively by birders, runners, dog-walkers and nature lovers of all kinds."

UNM issued a request for information in February soliciting interest in commercial development of multiple properties in its real estate portfolio, including the North Golf Course. It announced plans to proceed with more detailed discussion with Co-operative Retirement Services of America (CRSA) and JP Morgan Chase for a "continuing life care community" dubbed Lobo Village. Preliminary plans posted on the university web site show the North Golf Course shrunk to a so-called "executive course" with buildings and parking lots consuming what is now open, green space.

"The neighborhood does not oppose a retirement village. But UNM owns ample undeveloped lands that are more suitable for development ­ and wouldn't lay siege to a natural jewel in the heart of the city," Koplik said. Lands owned by UNM include the Elks Lodge on University, car dealerships along the south side of Lomas and a swath of undeveloped parcels called Lands West, located west of University Boulevard.

North Campus is not the only neighborhood unhappy with the plan, Koplik said. Other adjacent neighborhoods, many environmental and civic groups and community leaders have taken positions opposed to development on the North Golf Course.

A link to the university¹s plan is available here by clicking on UNM Real Estate Projects and then Lobo Village. Further information is also available at NeighborsForGreenSpace.com.

JkochPast Protest and Jamie Koch's Responses
About 700 people showed up in February to protest the retirement project at the golf course and signed a petition against the proposed development. Back then the President of the UNM Board of Regents, Jamie Koch (right), had this to say, which bolsters the criticism that the forces behind the development have been less than honest about what's going on:

In a Feb. 20 e-mail from Jamie Koch, president of the board of regents, he claimed the university is not looking to turn the area into a retirement center, something that was briefly discussed during the regents' January meeting.

"I'd like to make it perfectly clear at this time that the university has no plans to build a retirement community for alumni or faculty on any property the university owns," he wrote. "I've repeatedly said that the UNM North Golf Course has not been discussed by the regents nor has there been any request from university personnel for use of the golf course for a retirement community."

More recently, Jamie Koch changed his tune, despite the fact that the retirement community would displace a new Appeals Court building approved for construction near the UNM Law School:

"We’re very interested in working with the community, but we are going to try to move ahead with a retirement community, maintaining the golf course,” Jamie Koch, president of the UNM regents, said this week.

Koch said as part of the project, he would like the university to find a new site for the planned state Court of Appeals building now slated to be built near the UNM Law School. A groundbreaking had been projected for early 2008.

... Regents previously had signed off on the courthouse location. “I think we need to get out of the deal on the courthouse,” Koch said, stressing that he was speaking for himself and not the full board. He said UNM could find other land for the courthouse.

Appeals Court Judge Michael Bustamante said he didn’t know how a change in the location might affect the project. “We have a Board of Regents resolution in place that they passed last year … allowing or giving us the space that we’re planning for,” Bustamante said. “That’s still in place, and we’re currently working on the form of lease.”

Koch also claims he wants to replace a signficant portion of the golf course to save water. Conveniently, he doesn't reveal how much water the new development would use.

Regent Contact Info and Related Stories

Click for contact info for the UNM Board of Regents, including President Jamie Koch.

Check these out for more info on this issue:

October 26, 2007 at 11:34 AM in Education, Environment, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

First Look at Marty Chavez's Senate Campaign Team

A Roll Call article (subscription only) entitled, "Chavez Consolidating Democratic Establishment Support in New Mexico" provides an early look at the team Mayor Marty Chavez is putting together for his primary run for U.S. Senate in New Mexico.

I find it telling that Mayor Marty's finance team is "composed of many individuals from outside the mayor's Albuquerque base." That might just be because so many rank and file Democrats in the Albuquerque area don't consider him to be a genuine Democrat or one that can be trusted. Chavez seems to be drawing heavily from the big dollar donors with ties to oil and gas, horse racing and gambling interests that have been among the campaign funding mainstays in the political circles of Gov. Bill Richardson and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

Judging from those named, I wouldn't be surprised if Denish and Chavez made some kind of deal that's aimed at giving Chavez support for his Senate run while leaving a clear path for Denish to the governorship in 2010 -- or earlier if Richardson leaves New Mexico for a job in DC. If true, I hate to say it -- but yuck. Nothing like helping a flawed candidate with undoubtedly high negatives in order to assure that your own political path is easier. I hope I'm wrong.

The article says that the list of Chavez's "cadre of supporters" suggests that Richardson and Denish won't be running for the Senate seat, and that Marty claims he's lined up $560,000 in campaign pledges. No money in the bank, just "pledges." Trying to scare off the competition? You bet.

The Chavez Team According to Roll Call

Campaign Manager: Mark Fleisher, who ran Chavez's '05 mayoral reelection campaign

Finance Team:

  • Edward Romero, former ambassador to Spain
  • Jamie Koch, who chaired Richardson's first run for governor in 2002 and is the finance co-chair of Denish's 2010 gubernatorial campaign committee as well as a former business partner of her late father, Jack Daniels.
  • Paul Blanchard, who serves on Richardson's presidential campaign finance committee
  • Johnny Cope, wealthy oil and gas executive and a big fundraiser for statewide Dem candidates and another Denish ally
  • Javier Gonzales, former Santa Fe County Commissioner
  • Bud Dziak, insurance executive and prominent Repub fundraiser
  • Mike Anaya, former chair of the NM Dem Party and brother of former Dem Gov. Toney Anaya.

General Consulting: McMahon Squier Lapp and Associates

Polling: Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners

Media Consulting: Intends to sign Murphy Putnam Media LLC.

I'll be writing more soon about the backgrounds and connections of the Chavez team. For now, suffice it to say that it's clear that Mayor Marty will be running for the Senate nomination much as he has for Mayor -- with an emphasis on big donor bucks from the usual suspects who are heavily involved in the big business community. It should be interesting to see how the Party's State Central Committee members and primary voters will react to this approach to securing the nomination. Not only is Chavez seen as an anti-progressive DLC-type Dem, his operating style and power base is viewed with what might be termed disdain on the part of many. It's one thing to be "moderate" but quite another to be ethically challenged.

Additional Media and General Consulting: Brown Inc.

Direct Mail: The Mack Crounse Group

October 25, 2007 at 06:17 PM in 2008 NM Senate Race | Permalink | Comments (28)

Tell Reid: No Amnesty for Lawbreaking Telecoms

Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been asked by Sen. Chris Dodd to put a "hold" on the legislation that would grant lawbreaking telecoms retroactive immunity for their actions in the warrantless surveillance scandal, so far he's refused to do so. Now a number of national groups and bloggers (see below) have drafted a letter to Reid urging him to do what's right. Click to add your name to the letter, which will be delivered to Reid, as well as the Senate Democratic leadership and Senate Judiciary Committee members.

See our previous post for info on additional action you can take to try and stop telecom immunity.

National groups that signed onto the letter include:

American Civil Liberties Union
ColorOfChange.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Moveon.org Political Action
Working Assets Wireless

National bloggers who signed it include:

Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Dailykos
Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake
Matt Stoller, OpenLeft
Digby, Hullabaloo
Taylor Marsh, TaylorMarsh.com
Duncan Black, Atrios
John Aravosis, Americablog
Chris Bowers, OpenLeft
John Amato, Crooks and Liars
Howie Klein, DownWithTyranny

October 25, 2007 at 04:00 PM in Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)

DFA Presidential Pulse Poll: Bill Richardson

Dfapoll
Democracy for America is running a Presidential Pulse Poll and each of the Dem candidates has been invited to submit a message explaining why they should get our vote. Gov. Bill Richardson is the latest to distribute a message:

I know you've already received a couple of emails from other candidates, asking for your vote in the Presidential Pulse Poll.  They have given you what you usually get from candidates: long lists of strong policy statements and broad political philosophies.

You've seen my DFA videos on energy and Iraq, and you can visit my website for my plans on health care, education, and other important issues. But today I want to talk to you about the issue that matters most in this race:

Ending the war in Iraq.

You know where I stand: end this war now and get all our troops out as quickly as possible. If you're with me and want this war over now and all the troops out, please cast your vote for me, Bill Richardson, in the DFA Presidential Pulse Poll:

http://DemocracyforAmerica.com/VoteRichardson

Ending the war was the defining issue in 2003, when Governor Dean called for an end to the war - before President Bush spent four more years wasting billions of dollars, and hundreds more brave American troops died.

Iraq was the issue that really mattered in 2006, when we elected a Democratic majority to Congress to end the war (though they have yet to get that done). Iraq will be the issue this spring when we select a nominee, and it will be the issue that can win us back the White House in 2008.

Ending the war is the issue that distinguishes me from the other candidates in this race.

It seems simple - yet I am the only leading candidate who is unequivocally calling for the removal of all troops now. No half-measures. No rhetorical games about "combat troops" versus "non-combat troops." No residual troops. No one left behind.

http://DemocracyforAmerica.com/VoteRichardson

From the other leading candidates we're hearing poll-tested pieties about ending the war. But when you ask them what they'll actually do, none of them will commit to getting all of our troops out of Iraq now. They won't even commit to getting all the troops out by 2013. I've committed to ending the war my first day in office, and getting all the troops out in 2009. You can hold me to it.

If we don't elect a candidate who will get all of our troops out now, the war in Iraq may still be the defining issue in the 2012 campaign.

Your vote in the Pulse Poll does more than just determine an endorsement; it sends a message about what you demand from your candidates.

Today, I'd like you to send a message about ending this war when you cast your vote.

http://DemocracyforAmerica.com/VoteRichardson

Ending the war means a full and complete withdrawal. That's what America needs... and it's what I'll do.

Before I was Governor of New Mexico, I was a member of Congress, Secretary of Energy, and Ambassador to the United Nations. I've successfully negotiated with the worst "bad guys" from around the world -- including Saddam Hussein.  I know the region, and I know real diplomacy isn't possible until we get all of our troops out. As long as our troops are in Iraq, the Iraqis will not make the tough political compromises and the insurgents will continue to use our presence for recruitment. As long as our troops are in Iraq, they will continue to die in someone else's civil war.

I'm talking about Iraq and ending this war everywhere I visit - with DFA support and volunteers behind me, think of how far we can go. Vote now.

http://DemocracyforAmerica.com/VoteRichardson

We need to end this war now. That means getting all of our troops out. I'm the candidate committed to getting it done, and the only candidate with the experience to do it right.

Thank you for your vote in the Presidential Pulse Poll, and your continued hard work helping to elect Democrats.

Sincerely,
Governor Bill Richardson

Note from DFA: All Candidates have been asked to submit a "Vote for Me" message for DFA members. This message is not an endorsement by DFA. We provide this direct contact from the campaign as a service for our members when choosing whom to support in the final DFA Presidential Pulse Poll.

If you've already voted in the Pulse Poll, you can vote again and it will replace your previous vote.

October 25, 2007 at 12:12 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, DFA, Iraq War | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sign the Petition to Support Domestic Parnerships in NM

From Equality New Mexico:
Families formed by same-sex couples have been denied the basic protections all families deserve for far too long. Equality New Mexico is committed to passing the Domestic Partnership Bill early next year.

If the DP bill is to be passed in the 30 day legislative session that starts in January, we must start now lobbying our legislators and growing our network of supporters. Today we ask you to start this process by signing our petition in support of the Domestic Partnership Bill. We'll immediately let your State Senator and State Representative know you signed the petition. After you sign the petition you'll have an opportunity to send it to your friends and family.

We urge you to ask everyone you know throughout the state to sign the petition. Now is the time to strengthen our movement for the struggle ahead. Together we will win!

Alexis Blizman, Executive Director
Equality New Mexico

Editor's Note: You can review the fate of the Domestic Partnership Bill in the January 2007 New Mexico Legislature and the Special Session called immediately afterwards by Gov. Bill Richardson in a previous post. Basically, the bill came within one vote of passage.

October 25, 2007 at 10:47 AM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NM Environment Dept. Sues Citizen Group to Keep Sandia Labs Waste Report Secret

From Citizen Action:
The New Mexico Environment Department on Friday filed a complaint (pdf) against the public interest group Citizen Action. The lawsuit asks the Santa Fe First District Court to keep the public from obtaining a document about nuclear and hazardous wastes at Sandia National Laboratories’ Mixed Waste Landfill. On Friday, the New Mexico Attorney General’s office also affirmed its earlier October decision that a 2006 TechLaw report “fit squarely within the definition of a public record… subject to inspection.” 

The TechLaw report was used by NMED to examine the possibility that radioactive and hazardous wastes could leak into the groundwater at Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill. The NMED claimed the report was merely a draft document. However, the report was received by NMED after its decision to place a soil cover over the dump’s wastes and leave them in place. NMED referenced the report in relation to citizen concerns about travel of the wastes from the dump to groundwater, but then refused to provide the TechLaw report to the public. Citizen Action then filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office under the Public Records Act.

The nuclear weapon waste dump may contain over 700,000 cubic feet of radioactive and hazardous wastes that overlie Albuquerque’s drinking water supplies in unlined pits and trenches. Citizen Action argued to the Attorney General that there is a strong policy in favor of the public right to know whether the public is adequately protected from the dump’s dangers. NMED previously furnished TechLaw reports from 2000, but now asserts “executive privilege” to withhold the 2006 report as a draft document. 

Citizen Action has taken the position that the data from monitoring at the dump does not support the decision to leave the dangerous wastes in place and that the wastes should be excavated. 

Dave McCoy, Citizen Action Director, wonders what the government is hiding:

We appreciate the Attorney General championing openness in government. What is in this nuclear weapons era dump that the government doesn’t want us to know about? Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry states that he is committed to the ‘greatest amount of  transparency possible on operations at Los Alamos National Laboratories and the lab’s environmental impacts.’ Why is the Secretary operating in secret for the toxic cesspool of wastes at Sandia Labs that are above Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer?  A mistaken decision for the soil cover was made that is now in coverup.

Comments by hydrologist Robert Gilkeson recently warned the NMED of the limitations of fate and transport models that lack adequate data for validation. See comments memo (pdf, p.3).

A court decision to grant the Environment Department executive privilege to withhold the document could set a precedent that would have a chilling effect on the public’s ability to monitor government agencies throughout New Mexico. 

For more information, contact Dave McCoy ats Citizen Action: (505) 262-1862 or dave@radfreenm.org.

Editor's Note: Also see the Albuquerque Journal editorial that criticizes the action of the NM Environment Department in regard to the report. For background, visit the Citizen Action website or review our previous post on issues surrounding the Sandia Mixed Waste Landfill.

October 25, 2007 at 09:52 AM in Environment, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

(Updated) Call Today to Stop Telecom Amnesty in the Senate Judiciary Committee

UPDATE 10.25.07: Three more Senators on the SJC have pledged to vote against telecom amnesty: Joe Biden (D-DE), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). Let's keep the pressure on the others. Yesterday, presidential candidate Bill Richardson issued a statement urging the Senate to reject telecom immunity.
**************
Senator Chris Dodd has been leading the fight in the Senate against amnesty for lawbreaking on the part of the telecoms who allowed Bush to conduct warrantless surveillence using their facilities. He has pledged to request a hold on the bill to stop it from getting a vote on the Senate floor or to filibuster the legislation, if necessary, to stop it.  In the meantime, he suggests we try to stop telecom amnesty in the Senate Judiciary Committee. So far, only Sen. Russ Feingold has said he will vote no. Click on the image above and it will take you to a page that provides the info you need to call the other members of the committee.  Pass it on.

October 24, 2007 at 01:30 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Crime | Permalink | Comments (2)

Heinrich Attends "Strengthening Our Majority" Boot Camp (So Does McCamley)

Martin Heinrich, Dem candidate for Congress in NM-01, has just returned from a special candidate training session in Chicago for top challengers from around the country. He reports on his experiences in a new blog post on his campaign website:

Wow! That's all I can say to describe the last few days. I just returned from Chicago where I attended an incredible candidate training. The "Strengthening Our Majority" Boot Camp was co-sponsored by AFSCME and the New House PAC. They invited the top challengers from around the nation and put us through the paces with two days of intense coaching on management, message, money and mobilization. I've been through a lot of political trainings, but this was in a class by itself. It was especially helpful to get to know some of the freshmen Congressmen like Ed Perlmutter who ran and won in Republican leaning districts.

In addition to being a great learning experience the conference also gave me great hope. This year's challengers are an amazing crop of candidates. They all had impeccable credentials and the fire in the belly to win. By the end of the weekend they all had an impressively polished message as well.

Believe me when I tell you that 2008 is going to be a great year for Democrats, a great year for change, and a great year for America. Watch for my classmates' names in the news:

John Adler (NJ-03), Kay Barnes (MO-06), John Boccieri (OH-16), Charlie Brown (CA-04), Darcy Burner (WA-08), Steve Driehaus (OH-01), Joan Fitz-Gerald (CO-02), Bill Foster (IL-14), Larry Grant (ID-01), Jim Himes (CT-04), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), Bill Kennedy (MT-AL), Bob Lord (AZ-03), Dan Maffei (NY-25), Betsy Markey (CO-04), Eric Massa (NY-29), Bill McCamley (NM-02), Bill O'Neill (OH-14), Gary Peters (MI-09), Jon Powers (NY-26), Mark Schauer (MI-07), Dan Seals (IL-10), Ron Shepston (CA-42), John Unger (WV-02), Dick Versace (IL-18).

I believe you'll see more than a few of them in Congress just over a year from now.

Heinrich was certainly in some top-notch company at the training, judging from the names above. We got to meet several of them at the YearlyKos blogger convention we attended in Chicago this summer, including Charlie Brown (CA-04), Darcy Burner (WA-08) and Eric Massa (NY-29). Very impressive. Many of those who attended the training session with Heinrich are grassroots-netroots favorites, so he was in very good company.

Also exciting that Bill McCamley, running for Congress in NM-02, was in the mix. TWO Dem candidates from TWO Congressional districts in New Mexico. This is gonna be one exciting election cycle, isn't it?

October 24, 2007 at 10:18 AM in Democratic Party, NM-01 Congressional Seat 2008, NM-02 Congressional Race 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Pass a Good Energy Bill and Get Us Into the End Zone!

Endzone
Click to urge Congress to pass a powerful energy bill. (Click on image for larger version.)

The above ad was placed as a full page ad in the Santa Fe New Mexican as a sincere thank you and a direct appeal to Representative Udall to pass a good energy bill this fall -– an aggressive bill that will bring the nation’s fleet of cars and trucks to an average of 35 mpg and 15 percent of our electricity coming from renewable energy by 2020. It is an important time, a crucial time, because there is a powerful chance that special interests, lobbyists, and PACs will water-down or block this bill. I am working with a coalition to make sure the energy bill doesn’t get derailed. Please go to http://www.energybill2007.org and sign the petition to urge Congress to do the right thing.

cabraham@energybill2007.us

October 24, 2007 at 07:40 AM in Energy, Environment | Permalink | Comments (1)