Thursday, January 08, 2009

Back from DC, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish Reports Productive Meetings with Congressional Delegation

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Denish and Sen. Jeff Bingaman

Lt. Governor Diane D. Denish has returned from Washington, DC, where she recently completed a series of meetings with members of New Mexico's Congressional Delegation to discuss New Mexico's priorities for federal stimulus and attended the swearing in of the 111th Congress.

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Denish and Rep. Martin Heinrich

In a statement, Lt. Governor Denish said, "I returned from Washington confident that our Congressional Delegation shares my focus on securing federal stimulus dollars for New Mexico. I assured them that we have shovel-ready projects important to our state and to keeping New Mexicans working. Our delegation is ready to fight for water, road, and technology infrastructure priorities."

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Denish with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan

"In my meeting with Senator Bingaman, we specifically discussed the importance of matching federal dollars for Medicaid and I thanked him for his efforts to secure those investments for New Mexico."

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Denish and Rep. Harry Teague

"While the stimulus will help our nation's current economic challenges, it is also an opportunity for New Mexico to think long-term and to make strategic investments as we continue to build a high-wage, green-collar economy," Denish said.

In addition to the planned events, Denish's visit to DC was impacted by the breaking news of Gov. Bill Richardson's withdrawal from the nomination for Commerce Secretary. From all accounts, our Lt. Governor handled all the media attention with skill and held onto her composure during what must have been a jarring experience given the unexpected announcement by Gov. Richardson.

Denish was, of course, expecting to step into the governorship by sometime in February at the latest, and was in the midst of an energetic transition effort when the news broke. Her transition team still intends to complete a report based on the imput of about 125 volunteer advisors who are making recommendations in variety of policy areas.

Photos courtesy of Office of Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Click on images for larger versions.

January 8, 2009 at 02:52 PM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Government, Local Politics, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Richardson Withdrawal: So Sudden, So Odd

I'm hearing that nobody saw this coming.

Richardsonespanola2For instance, there were a number of political and social gatherings over the holidays, and the general consensus was that Bill Richardson's Commerce Secretary appointment would pretty much cruise through the Senate. Oh, there might be a question or two about the longstanding FBI investigation of CDR Financial Products, which did some work for the New Mexico Finance Authority back in 2004, but nothing serious. Everyone seemed geared towards the future, and a smooth transition for Lt. Gov. Diane Denish as she moved into the driver's seat in Santa Fe.

Apparently, the news of Richardson's ouster was a shocking surprise to many, perhaps even Richardson himself. According to a leak reported in a CNN article, Richardson was "stunned" at being informed he was out:

Two Democratic strategists outside Obama's transition team told CNN that Obama aides pushed the withdrawal because they did not want an ethical distraction in the wake of controversy surrounding embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Federal prosecutors allege that Blagojevich, a Democrat, had hoped to barter Obama's Senate seat for either money or influence.

One of the Democratic strategists described Richardson as "stunned." But Democrats who talked with CNN noted the withdrawal is in keeping with the Obama philosophy of resolving issues quickly.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman was blindsided as well, according to an report in the Albuquerque Journal:

Veteran Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in a Journal interview that he was among those Richardson phoned Sunday morning. Bingaman said he had heard no rumblings in D.C. about a potential Senate showdown over Richardson's confirmation.

"I'm not on the Commerce Committee, where the confirmation hearing would have been held, but I think I would have been hearing if there was any significant opposition to him being confirmed," Bingaman said.

"I thought he would have strong support in his confirmation process, and obviously, I strongly support him," Bingaman said. "... I didn't try to talk him out of it. I just told him I was disappointed, and (that) he would do extremely well in that position."

DianeDenishLt. Gov. Diane Denish apparently had no inkling of Richardson's pending withdrawal from the nomination process either, given her immersion in transition activities with a paid staff of two and a team of 125 volunteer advisors. There were reports just last week that she and Richardson had been checking in by phone and that staffers of the two were in close contact over transition matters.

Preserving Appearances
As this story develops, it looks more and more like Obama was willing to jettison Richardson to avoid even the aroma of questionable ethics at a time when he'll be challenged for his actions surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blogojevich and his appointment of Roland Burris to succeed Obama in the Senate. The timing of Richardson's withdrawal this weekend (or "postponement," as Denish termed it) can easily be viewed as Obama trying to clear the decks before the Tuesday showdown, when Burris is set to show up at the U.S. Senate to be sworn in and all hell could break lose.

RichardsondenverDoes anyone doubt that Obama knew all about the FBI probe of CDR Financial and the company's business dealings in New Mexico when they named Richardson as their nominee for Commerce Secretary? Despite the Obama team's leaks yesterday that Richardson was not entirely forthcoming about the matter, no vetting team worth its salt -- especially at the presidential level -- would have okayed an appointment like Richardson's without obtaining full knowledge of any ongoing federal investigation in the potential nominee's home state.

As I said before, nothing new has emerged about the investigation and grand jury proceedings since Obama named Richardson. What has changed is the scrutiny of Obama and the Senate Dems over their very public threats to stop Roland Burris from being sworn in as a Senator. At this juncture, it seems to me that's the real reason Richardson was abruptly dumped as a cabinet appointee.

DenishObamaABQcrShapes of Things to Come?
To my mind, the move to purge Richardson was executed in a sloppy and peculiar manner without regard to the havoc it would cause at this late date, with a New Mexico gubernatorial transition in full swing and a Legislative Session set to start in only a few weeks. I think it makes Obama look rather callous, self-serving and knee-jerk in his decision-making. His responses to the Blago controversy seem panicked, and he and the Senate Dems appear to lack a thorough understanding of the consequences of what has now become an odd crusade against seating Burris. If they succeed, expect the legal ramifications to stay in the news for weeks or even months -- not the kind of distraction we need at a time like this.

Regardless of how this all comes out, I think the Blago and Richardson dustups provide a glimpse into the character and executive style of Obama that will only become more evident as he takes office and faces much more serious issues and battles. Barack was more than willing to insult GLBT citizens and their supporters by picking Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural so he could make a point about his "inclusiveness." He's prepared to block the legal appointment of Roland Burris in order to try and burnish his ethical creds and further distance himself from Blagojevich. And he precipitously got rid of Richardson to tamp down any additional criticism he might get in connection with the Blago-Burris-Reid showdown.

Do these actions demonstrate an effective strategic and tactical grasp, or a rather cut-throat tendency to throw people under the bus? You decide.

See my previous posts on this story here, here and here.

All photos by M.E. Broderick.

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January 5, 2009 at 10:39 AM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Crime, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (10)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Quote of the Weekend on Blago-Burris-Reid-Obama Mess

As is often the case, digby at Hullabaloo has one of the best snarks I've read about the latest folly of the Senate Dems -- in this case their politically suicidal insistence on stopping the legitimate and legal appointment of Roland Burris to fill Obama's Senate seat. My only quibble is that she doesn't mention Obama's almost certain involvement in shaping Reid's crusade:

The fact is that the Senate Dems have been reacting like shrieking, maiden aunts in a roomful of bats, lurching from one outraged reaction to the next without any kind of due consideration as to the legality or the political ramifications. One wonders where this level of energy and scorn was when the Republicans were making fools of them over and over again.

I assume the Senate Dems feel that they have to assert themselves or risk being seen as weak. They are, as Jane [Hamsher] points out, afraid that John Cornyn will hang Burris around their necks. But unfortunately, they are asserting themselves in a way that simultaneously appears to be petty, unlawful, panicked and potentially even racist. At the very least they are escalating a distracting political circus at a time of great national crisis, which hardly seems like a smart way to start the new Democratic era. I'm all for fighting the good fight, but it would probably be more useful to do it over something that actually matters.

But hey, maybe it's actually good for them to have a big public, interparty hissy fit right now. With enough practice on each other, they might develop enough courage and skill to outmaneuver the Republicans someday.

Read my previous posts here and here about the possible connections between the Blago mess and Richardonson's withdrawal from the Commerce Secretary appointment.

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January 4, 2009 at 06:19 PM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Crime, Democratic Party, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Plot Thickens: Denish Says Richardson "Postponed" Joining Obama Administration

Curiouser and curiouser. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who's been busily preparing to assume the New Mexico governorship when current Gov. Bill Richardson leaves to become Commerce Secretary, has issued a statement characterizing Richardson's withdrawal as a postponement in taking a position in the new presidential administration. Here's what her office released this afternoon:

Lt. Governor Diane Denish is currently in Washington DC to attend the swearing in of the New Mexico congressional delegation and to strategize with them on economic stimulus opportunities for New Mexico, specifically infrastructure projects. The Governor and Lt. Governor talked early this morning about the Governor's decision to withdraw his name from consideration for Commerce Secretary at this time.

The Lt. Governor made the following statement:

"Governor Richardson postponed taking a position in the administration to ensure that President Obama and the American people face no delays in getting to work to fix our ailing economy, and the President-elect said he looks forward to Governor Richardson joining his administration in the days ahead. In the meantime, Governor Richardson and I will work together, as we have over the last six years, to tackle challenges at home, to craft a workable budget with the legislature and to strengthen our economy to make sure that every New Mexico family has the opportunity to succeed." [emphasis mine]

So, after talking with Richardson, Denish apparently sees the withdrawal of the Governor's name from consideration for the Commerce slot as a mere stepping back from the process until Obama can re-appoint him to a post when the dust clears.

Obama did indicate in his statement that, "Although we must move quickly to fill the void left by Governor Richardson's decision, I look forward to his future service to our country and in my administration." And Richardson, in his statement about the withdrawal, says he has, "asked the President-elect not to move forward with my nomination at this time."

Richardson's Future
So, what will the future bring for Richardson in the Obama administration? The current spin points to at least some role in the future for the New Mexico Governor, and sooner rather than later.

As I suggested in a previous post, can the withdrawal of Richardson from the nomination process right now be more about Obama's battles over the Blagojevich appointment of Roland Burris than with any serious expectation that the grand jury may end up indicting Richardson? Or did Richardson get forced out by Obama and this is his attempt to keep his iron in the fire for a future slot in the administration? Or did Richardson agree to resign only if Obama promised to appoint him to another position in DC in the future? Only time will tell.

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January 4, 2009 at 04:03 PM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Crime, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (1)

Richardson's Bow Out: Why Now?

You can read the complete statements of Obama and Richardson about the Governor bowing out of the Commerce Secretary nomination here. (Also see my previous post.)

Personally, I have to question Obama's calculations in picking Richardson if the grand jury investigation into CDR Financial Products -- only a small part of which involves Richardson -- is such a problem now. The wide-ranging probe by the FBI has been going on a long time, and was no secret. Obama knew about it when he named Richardson.

What's changed since Obama announced his choice for Commerce Secretary? I suppose something seriously damaging to Richardson could have emerged from the investigation in the last few days, but I doubt it. Note that Obama makes a point in his statement to say he may well ask Richardson to serve his administration in the future, once the investigation concludes:

"It is a measure of his [Richardson's] willingness to put the nation first that he has removed himself as a candidate for the Cabinet to avoid any delay in filling this important economic post at this critical time. Although we must move quickly to fill the void left by Governor Richardson's decision, I look forward to his future service to our country and in my administration."

The Blago-Burris-Reid Connection
What definitely has changed since the Richardson pick is that the Blago-Burris-Reid thing has blown up in Obama's face, thanks in no small part to the wacky over-reaction of Sen. Harry Reid and other Dem Senators, as well as the Obama team itself. They've managed to box themselves into a corner because of early threats and statements, and now they are stuck having to create a very public scene if they won't seat Roland Burris when he shows up in Washington on Tuesday to fill Obama's seat.

I don't get what legitimate legal grounds the Dem Senators have to stop the Burris appointment. Whatever one many think of Blago, he's is still a legally seated governor with the legal right to make the pick, and Burris is definitely qualified to serve. Blago has been charged in a complaint from the U.S. Attorney, but he has not been indicted by a grand jury. In fact, Patrick Fitzgerald has asked for a 90-day extension to go before the grand jury -- on top of the 30 days he was granted when he filed the complaint.

Given the pounding Obama et al. will no doubt get next week if they try to stop Burris, it's certainly conceivable that Richardson was "encouraged" to withdraw to cut off potential criticism about his (and thus Obama's) ethics. If you're going to stop a legitimate Senate appointment because of ACCUSATIONS of wrongdoing, it would be hard to defend the Richardson appointment when some of his actions are reportedly being probed by a grand jury.

To my mind, Obama and Reid et al. should have let the Burris appointment go. The Dems need every vote they can get in the Senate and, by all accounts, Burris is a loyal Dem -- unlike, say, Joe Lieberman, who was defended to the hilt by Obama despite his disloyalties and worse. As for the Senators, do recall how they gave convicted felon Ted Stevens a standing ovation -- with Reid providing lots of praise -- when he was forced to resign his seat because of a fraud conviction. As it stands, the Obama seat may well sit empty for months, depriving Dems of a much needed vote when Obama tries to "hit the ground running," as he puts it.

We All Pay for Early Miscues
Bottom line: The loss of Richardson's Commerce Secretary appointment may well be another sad ramification of the mishandling of the process to get a replacement in Obama's seat. Who did the mishandling? Of course Blago himself is front and center, but let's not forget the odd and over the top responses of Obama and the Democratic Senate leadership. We all lose due to the series of miscalculations and hubristic actions that have brought us to a disappointing place as Obama gets set to take over the oval office. I expected better, didn't you?

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January 4, 2009 at 02:54 PM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Crime, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (8)

(Updates x 3 - It's Official) Drudge Headline: "More Obama Drama: Richardson Pulls Out"

Update 3: According to Politico:

A source close to Richardson told Politico, "There are too many unanswered questions and while he thinks the results of the grand jury will turn out in his favor, he doesn't want to distract attention from the administration."

Update 2: Video of NBC's Andrea Mitchell reporting the exclusive:

Update 1: The story is true. It's posted as breaking news on MSNBC.com:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.

"Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact," he said Sunday in a report by NBC News' Andrea Mitchell. "But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process."

... Obama said Sunday he accepted Richardson's decision to withdraw with 'deep regret.'

"Governor Richardson is an outstanding public servant and would have brought to the job of Commerce Secretary and our economic team great insights accumulated through an extraordinary career in federal and state office," Obama said.

Here's what the controversy is about.

Richardson said he will remain as New Mexico Governor. So much for Lt. Gov. Diane Denish's transition team and whoever she had in mind to replace her. And so much for Denish getting the benefit of serving as Governor before the 2010 election, which could well help the chances of Heather Wilson, who has leaked about running on the R side.

So much for the opportunities for New Mexico that might have stemmed indirectly from having Richardson at the helm of the Commerce Department. Of course Richardson could be tapped later by the Obama administration for some role, if he's cleared by a grand jury in the long and wide-ranging investigation being conducted by the FBI -- but that could take many moons.

**********
True or false? Who knows? It's the slimy, tabloid gossip-monger Matt Drudge making this assertion about Bill Richardson's Commerce Secretary nomination this morning, with zero documentation or explanation. But it's out there. If true (big if), it would certainly throw a monkey wrench into the works here in New Mexico -- not to mention drawing more negative attention to the Obama transition.

Also see my later post on this issue.

January 4, 2009 at 11:23 AM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (8)

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish Profiled in New Mexican

Recommended reading: New Mexican reporter Kate Nash's profile and interview with our next Governor, Diane Denish -- who has much to consider as the time ticks down towards Bill Richardson's departure to Washington to serve as Secretary of Commerce. You'll find out what she got for Christmas and what's scrolling across her Blackberry, for starters. Go see.

January 4, 2009 at 12:47 AM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Denish Busy Prepping for Transition, Meeting with Constituent Groups

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Lt. Gov. Denish and transition communication director Chris Cervini

Lt. Governor Diane D. Denish is hard at work preparing the ground so she can step in and firmly take the reins when Gov. Bill Richardson leaves the state to assume his new role as U.S. Commerce Secretary. Richardson will remain as Governor at least until January 20th, when the new president is inaugurated, and it may well be sometime in February before the official transition occurs. The Senate hearing date for Richardson's confirmation has not yet been scheduled.

According to a statement released today, Denish has begun a series of meetings with constituent groups and issue advocates as she continues her transition to the Governor's Office. This week, she met with health, environmental, energy, and transportation and infrastructure groups. Denish will continue to meet with various constituencies and advocate groups over the next several weeks to listen to their concerns and gain their input.

"I have built my record, as Lt. Governor, on listening to a variety of opinions and then taking decisive action," Denish said. "Advocates play an important role making the public policy cases for their issue areas. As Governor, I will welcome divergent opinions and debate as we prepare to meet the challenges that lay ahead of us."

In addition, Lt. Governor Denish has encouraged the citizens of New Mexico to contact her via e-mail at [email protected] or by calling 505-795-4137.

According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal today, meetings between Richardson and Denish staffers are taking place almost daily.

Richardson and Denish met face-to-face last Monday to discuss the transition and aides from both camps say there's been regular phone contact between the two. However, Richardson is hanging on to his decision-making authority until he officially resigns the governorship to assume his new job as Secretary of Commerce:

"I wouldn't call it power sharing because the governor is still making the decisions," said Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos. "I'd say we're going about our legislative agenda the same as usual."

Lt. Gov. Denish is also reaching out to other governors for tips. The Journal reports that she met with North Carolina's Governor-Elect Bev Purdue -- who is also stepping into her state's top slot after serving as Lt. Governor -- to trade notes. Denish has also spoken with both Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who have extensive experience with the kind of Western issues Denish will be tackling when she's sworn in as New Mexico's first female Governor. Napolitano, a New Mexico native, will be stepping down as Governor to assume the role of Homeland Security Director, and is involved in a transition in Arizona to replace her.

Denish has set in motion a whirlwind of activities since Richardson's appointment was announced. Within 10 days, Denish assembled a two-person paid transition staff and 125 volunteer transition advisers, who will report to her on specific issues in upcoming weeks. According to Chris Cervini, the Lt. Governor's transition team communications director, Denish won't announce her pick to replace her as lieutenant governor until Richardson is confirmed by the U.S. Senate and vacates his current position.

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January 2, 2009 at 11:32 AM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Emails to DFNM Illuminate Blogger's Behavior Problem

I just got five emails that said virtually the same thing:

I have it on the best authority that Joe Monahan pushes caffeine-soaked plugs up his arse. My friend told me he's seen Joe do it any number of times, in person. An insider told me Joe does it to rev up his libido and improve his spelling skills. Have you heard this too?

How about it DFNM readers -- have any of you heard this is or isn't true? Weigh in! Send in your emails! We can determine the truth here and now. I'll decide which emails should be revealed and publish them here anonymously. We'll get to the bottom of this. Take my word for it.
***********
Of course the above isn't true but it sure mimics how Monahan writes about things, doesn't it? How do we know whether the emails he cites are real or imagined? He doesn't supply names or any other info on the missives, yet we are to believe they represent some sort of "side" on a given issue. Does anyone with an ounce of common sense actually trust Joe on stuff like this? If so, why? Virtually all of the Alligator man's "insider" leaks are planted on his website to grind a status quo axe or bring attention to the views of his cronies with vested interests in something. Why would these alleged emails be any different?

Even if the emails were real, who's to say he's not getting hundreds refuting the ones he quotes? It's the oldest trick in the book -- just about as decrepit as the status quo views of the "wall leaners" and lounge lizards Joe uses to rake his muck. Hey Joe -- we see through the drivel. Give it a rest. Or publish the complete emails with names and dates attached. Until then, we'll keep assuming that you're making it all up and/or tilting the playing field to help yourself and your anti-reform buddies.

Why do I bring this up now? Because Joe has been on another of his many missions to help the forces that want to keep new blood and fresh ideas out of Santa Fe. He's been dribbling out the drivel to stir up a "controversy" related to Lt. Gov. Diane Denish's pick to replace herself when she moves into the governor's office -- and using the old email trick to do it.

I refuse to link to him, but check out his post yesterday to see what I mean. Why, Joe's arguing the "sides" in his carefully constructed battle via alleged emails he quotes anonymously and/or selectively, if they exist at all. And he's claiming there's "severe angst" out there against the frontrunner candidate. Bah, humbug.

I know that way too many politicos and political junkies give Monahan power and influence beyond his actual degree of sway, but I hope Lt. Gov. Denish will keep her own council on her selection of a replacement to serve as LG. She should ignore the orchestrated whispering campaign Joe's using to try to inject static into the decision. Once again, he's using less than forthright tactics to push the views of the good ol' boys club. You know how he is.

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December 12, 2008 at 02:17 PM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Government, Local Politics, Media | Permalink | Comments (9)

Incoming Governor Denish Names Citizen Advisors

In a press release, Lt. Governor Diane D. Denish today announced the citizens of New Mexico who have been invited to serve on the transition advisory teams. Representatives from every county in the state will participate in making constructive recommendations to the incoming governor. The teams will report back to the incoming governor no later than January 15.

On Wednesday, Lt. Governor Denish announced the Transition Advisory Leadership to direct teams in the following areas: Government Efficiency and Finance, Economic Stability, Transportation and Infrastructure, Education and Workforce, Healthy Families and Communities, Energy and Environment, Safety and Security, Youth Voices and Youth Vision, and Centennial Anniversary.

A list of citizens, sorted by county, is provided in this spreadsheet (xls).

Note: No additional info about the Lt. Governor's picks has been released so far. I know some of these people, but I've never heard of many of them. Do any of our readers out there know people on this list? Add your info in the comments on this thread.

December 12, 2008 at 10:42 AM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lt. Gov. Denish Announces Transition Advisory Leadership Team

DdenishcrLast week, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish announced her selection of Kathy Keith as director and Chris Cervini as communications director for her gubernatorial transition team. At a news conference today, the Lt. Governor announced a bevy of volunteer advisors she'll tap into for innovative policy proposals as she prepares to assume the governorship upon Gov. Bill Richardson's confirmation as Secretary of Commerce in Washington. Tomorrow, Denish will announce the names of a diverse group of citizens who will provide input on committees in the specified policy areas headed by the Team.

Denish's prepared remarks about her Transition Advisory Leadership Team follow:

New Mexico is strong. We have a diverse economy, a stronger education system, and continue to put policy and programs in place to protect and support New Mexico families.

Today we're here to talk about the unprecedented transition of leadership. I'm proud to be a part of history and I look forward to continuing our progress.

With this transition comes opportunity -- the opportunity to reach out to some of our state's brightest and most effective leaders to assess New Mexico's strengths and to generate new and innovative ideas.

In an effort to meet the challenges that lie ahead I am establishing a Transition Advisory Team to develop recommendations and priorities in areas that are vital to moving the state forward.

The community, business, and education leaders with me today will direct teams of citizens who will identify areas where we can achieve greater efficiency in state government, identify ways in which agencies can better integrate, rank priority issues, recommend what can be accomplished in the next two years, and in the next five years.

The transition advisory team leaders represent diversity in the public and private sectors, rural and urban areas, and the cultural strength that makes New Mexico unique. They are volunteering their time to public service and to New Mexico.

Co-Chairs: The advisory leadership team will be co-chaired by Dr. Dan Lopez and Ms. Brenda Brooks.

Dr. Dan Lopez, president of New Mexico Tech, brings extensive knowledge of state government and finance issues. Dr. Lopez's experience in administration, planning, finance and budgeting will be important to guiding work of this advisory team. As former Secretary of the Department of Finance he understands state operations and budget.

A native of Hobbs, Brenda Brooks brings this advisory team knowledge of communities and their needs. Her experience identifying efficiencies within the private sector is an important aspect of the work ahead. Brenda has a long history of developing partnerships between private industry and government -- finding a way to better serve the public through combining the strengths of each. She also brings expertise on successful rural Main Street programs.

Dan and Brenda will guide the work of teams focusing on specific areas including:

Government Efficiency and Finance
Economic Stability
Transportation and Infrastructure
Education and Workforce
Healthy Families and Communities
Energy and Environment
Safety and Security

Government Efficiency and Finance: Trevor Loy will lead the Government Efficiency and Finance Advisory Team to bring private sector finance expertise. Trevor is the founder of Flywheel Ventures, a New Mexico-based venture capital company bringing over $60 million in investments to New Mexico-based companies. He has over 15 years of experience investing, building and operating early stage technology companies. Trevor's experience in private sector finance will bring insight into government finance operations.

Economic Stability: Alex Romero will lead the Economic Stability Team. Alex brings a lifetime of service to New Mexico and thirty-years in the financial industry in Albuquerque. He has expertise in economic development and marketing that will serve this committee well.

Education and Workforce: Dr. Margie Huerta will lead the Education and Workforce Advisory Team. Margie is the President of Dona Ana Community College, a community college of NMSU. During her tenure at Dona Ana Community College she has introduced new programs to meet the growing demands of business and industry in the Dona Ana area. She has also worked to build relationships between the K-12, higher education, and business communities.

Healthy Families and Communities: Matt Martinez will lead the Healthy Families and Communities Advisory Team. Matt is the Vice president of National Hispanic Cultural Center board and former Mayor of Las Vegas and he knows New Mexico families and communities. Matt worked closely with the late Alice King on various efforts and he will strive to continue her vision and work on behalf of New Mexico's families.

Safety and Security: Maria Griego-Raby, owner of Contract Associates and former UNM regent, will lead the Safety and Security Team. Maria currently serves on the State Board of Finance collaborating with communities to keep families safe and secure, is familiar with statewide safety issues and has specific experience assessing resources in small and rural areas. Having contracted with the national laboratories, she has expertise in developing safety and security plans. She also owned a business in Juarez Mexico and understands border safety and security issues related to economic and workforce development.

Energy and Environment: Joe Garcia, Chairman of the All Indian Pueblo Council and President of the National Congress of American Indians (who could not join us today), will lead the Energy and Environment Advisory Team. Joe brings technical expertise to this Advisory Team as an electrical engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory for twenty-five years. In addition, Joe has served the state for many years and was recognized when he received the New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award.

Transportation and Infrastructure: Joe Maestas, mayor of Espanola, (who also could not join us today) will lead the Transportation and Infrastructure Advisory Team. Joe brings extensive expertise to this team with more than 20 years as an engineer, planner, and program manager for the federal government. In addition, Joe served as President of the New Mexico Municipal League Board of Directors. The Municipal League is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of New Mexico's 103 incorporated municipalities. He currently serves on the New Mexico Economic Partnership's Board of Directors.

I recognize and value the youth perspective in the state and will be naming a Youth Voices, Youth Vision advisory team.

Finally, I will take recommendations from a Centennial Anniversary team that will focus specifically on New Mexico history, culture, education, and improving graduation rates.

Tomorrow: Citizen Participants to be Named: Every New Mexican can feel invested and represented in the transition. Citizens from around the state will be called on to serve with these leaders on committees. They will represent every county in the state to ensure that every area statewide has representation in recommendations and ideas that come forward to strengthen New Mexico. We will announce those individuals tomorrow.

I would like to thank the hundreds if New Mexicans that have offered their skills, talents, and support to make this a smooth transition.

Thank you.

Photo by M.E. Broderick.

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December 10, 2008 at 12:20 PM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Gov. Richardson Visits Mexico, Dodges Questions on NAFTA

RichardsondenvercrAn article in the Miami Herald reports on a visit to the private University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico yesterday by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson -- a day after Richardson was nominated to serve as Commerce Secretary in the Obama administration.

Richardson was south of the border on a previously scheduled trip to speak with members of the Mexican business community. Former Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Ernesto Derbez accompanied Richardson and, when questions arose from the business folks about NAFTA, Derbez deflected them saying, "We won't give any answers to those questions."

The conservative government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon is strongly opposed to reopening NAFTA -- a possibility raised by Obama at a February 26 presidential debate:

"I will make sure that we re-negotiate in the same way that Senator (Hillary) Clinton talked about," Obama said then, referring to the trade pact. "I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced."

The article reported that Mexican "government officials said they doubted Obama would follow through on a campaign pledge to re-negotiate NAFTA," and quoted Mexican Agricultural Secretary Alberto Cardenas as saying it was "a little remote" that the United States would actually try to reopen the trade accord, implemented in 1994:

"If in the campaign, at some given moment in some American state, the president-elect was heard to make such a statement, I think we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves," Cardenas told reporters. "I see it as a little remote that such a re-negotiation would actually take place."

In an excellent article at the New Mexico Independent, Marjorie Childress addresses Richardson's free-trader reputation and how it may have evolved over the years:

Richardson has a reputation as a free-trade advocate who on the domestic front pushes low taxation, public investment in private ventures to spur economic development, and market-based solutions to social problems. In this respect he’s a Clintonite — a DLC Democrat through and through. What makes him an interesting choice for Commerce, though, is his internationalist perspective and interest in diplomacy.

... While Richardson is a self-described free trader, he also seems to have evolved in his thinking about free trade regimes. In a visit to the Council on Foreign Relations this past summer, he spoke frankly about his views on trade and NAFTA. He was no longer running for president but was certainly still positioning himself for a spot in the next administration. In this light, his comments might be construed as being as much about himself as about what we might expect an Obama administration to prioritize.

So will Obama, long-time free-trade advocate Bill Richardson and others in the Obama administration really get tough on labor and environmental standards related to trade negotiations? Nobody knows. Way too many Democrats talk the talk when they're involved in a campaign, but somehow their promises seem to get lost when they're in office. Unions, American workers and environmentalists haven't been amused. We'll all be watching closely when the Obama administration takes up trade issues next year. Will there really be any "change we can believe in?" Clearly, labor unions and many others will be pressing Obama to level the playing field in terms of trade and disappearing jobs -- especially in an economy like this one.

Photo by M.E. Broderick.

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December 5, 2008 at 03:09 PM in 2009 Gubernatorial Transition, Business, Economy, Populism, Environment, Labor, Obama Transition, Public Policy | Permalink | Comments (2)