Mario Burgos » Bill Richardson

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Richardson’

Seriously?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

It looks like the New Mexico’s “golden ticket” is struggling on more than one front.  But, at least someone is still writing fantasies for media distribution:

“Governor Richardson has led the way for ethics reform in New Mexico,” said Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia.

Are you kidding me? A list of corruption this long, and the Governor is being positioned as the champion of ethics?

Let’s See the Proof

Monday, March 8th, 2010

The Governor’s office and Lt. Governor Diane Denish appear to be in a he said / she said squabble about the state’s failure to land a Race to the Top education reform grant from the Obama administration:

Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia said that despite Denish’s interest in education, she declined repeated invitations to help develop the proposal.
        

“Her only involvement was to write a letter in support of the state’s proposal, which she praised as being ‘innovative,’” Ray-Garcia said.
        

“Now, for whatever reason, she has decided to attack the hard work of a lot of New Mexicans, including Secretary Garcia and her staff, who dedicated a lot of time and resources into this proposal. It was a strong proposal and Governor Richardson was proud to spend considerable time in Washington D.C. last week lobbying Secretary Duncan on its merits.”

Denish spokesman James Hallinan said Denish was never invited to participate in the grant-writing process. 

Now, I admit to being a bit curious as to whom is telling the truth here. And, as it was pointed out to me by one reader, this should be relatively easy to prove one way or the other. Maybe Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia would like to send us a copy of the emails or memos that were sent to the Lt. Governor inviting her to help develop the proposal, or maybe a copy of one of the written responses where she “declined repeated inivtations.”


Alternately, maybe the Lt. Governor’s spokesman, James Hallinan could send us a copy of the request the Lt. Governor made to actually be involved with the proposal writing. I’m just saying, if one of you is telling the truth, please back it up with a little written evidence.


As a relative tangent, you’ve got to love the fact that teachers’ union representative actually wrote a letter AGAINST the state’s request for $160 million from the feds:

And while the state’s chances probably weren’t helped by a letter from Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein criticizing the state’s application, that likely wasn’t a determining factor. 

It may not have been a determining factor, but I do hope that when we have a second special session this year because revenue is less than projected, our state legislatures take note that the union went out of their way to keep money for education from coming into the state.  Education cuts in the amount of $160 million should absolutely be on the table if a second special session is called.

Richardson Approval Numbers in Free Fall

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The Teflon Governor is Teflon no more.

We’re going to have our New Mexico poll results out starting tomorrow- perhaps the most interesting thing we found is that Bill Richardson has become one of the least popular Governors in the country, with 63% of voters in the state disapproving of him to only 28% approving. He’s even in negative territory among Democrats at a 42/47 spread.

I’ve always been amazed by Governor Bill Richardson’s early popularity. Despite the rhetoric, the “successes” of this Administration have been nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on for days, but you can just hit the appropriate label button below and read it all without me repeating it.

So, what does this all mean for the Democratic hopefuls during this upcoming election year.  Well, right now it looks like Richardson Administration #2, Lt. Governor Diane Denish, is still polling out ahead… barely:

Where New Mexico departs from its regional counterparts is that it still looks favored to vote Democratic in its most significant statewide race this year. Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish leads her top Republican opponent, Pete Domenici Jr., by a 45-40 margin and has leads of 14-18 points over the rest of the GOP field.

Denish is by far the best known of the candidates running, with 41% of voters in the state holding a positive opinion of her to just 34% who see her negatively.

 Keep in mind, the Lt. Governor has been campaigning for this position for going on two years. So, I don’t know that those  numbers are anything to celebrate about – especially, considering Pete Domenici Jr. just got in the race a couple of weeks ago.

It’s going to be very hard for the Lt. Governor to start disengaging herself from the Governor after Denish has been so silent for so long. Only 34% of the voters see her negatively right now, but let’s be realistic.  She has operated in the shadow of Governor for the last eight years. His failed policies are bringing him down very quickly.  It’s not going to be very long before that same problem is encountered by Richardson’s #2. This is particularly true when we consider that the Governor spent so much time out of state during his Presidential dream chasing, that the state was actually being run by Lt. Governor Diane Denish.

Misguided Priorities at Legislative Close

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Huge budget issues continue to loom as the Legislature comes to a close today.  So, you’ve got to wonder how the Hispanic Education Act can be a priority:

But with only hours remaining in the legislative session at the time of the Senate’s 25-13 vote, House Bill 150 was sent back to the House, which needed to approve it before it could be forwarded to Gov. Bill Richardson.
        

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rick Miera, D-Albuquerque, was optimistic Wednesday night that the House would concur on the amendment by today’s noon adjournment.
        

The legislation, which is supported by Richardson, would create a Hispanic education liaison position inside the state Public Education Department. It also would require an annual report card on Hispanic performance in New Mexico schools. And it would create a Hispanic education advisory council that would provide input to the education secretary. 

 Just to refresh your memory on why this is a bizarre initiative, please go back and read my original pre-legislative session post on this purposeless political soundbite effort.

Denish-Come-Lately

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Denish-Come-Lately

Noun

Singular
Denish-come-lately
Plural
Denish-come-latelies

Denish-come-lately (plural Denish-come-latelies)

  1. (idiomatic) A newcomer; a novice; an upstart

 Example in Common Usage:

Considering her complicit silence for seven plus years as Lt. Governor and many more years before that as the Chairman of the Democratic Party, many might consider Diane Denish’s election year decision to become an open government advocate something of a Denish-come-lately phenomenon.

It’s been more than half a decade, all of which Lt. Governor Diane Denish has occupied the number two seat in one of the most corrupt and backroom dealing administrations this state has ever seen, since I’ve lamented the fact that how the administration spends taxpayer dollars is done in secrecy.

Now that election season is in full swing, Governor Richardson’s number two is trying to reposition herself as a “Champion of Sunshine.”  Well, she may be able to fool some folks, but come November the voters are not likely to forget that when it came to letting the sun shine in this scandal plagued administration, Lt. Governor Diane Denish her time hiding in the clouds.

Even as recently as a few months ago, when this administration refused to identify those the 59 administration faithful who were supposedly being cut (probably to hide the fact that some were being moved to other positions), the sound of Lt. Governor Denish’s silence was deafening.

Sorry, but being a Denish-Come-Lately to the sunshine brigade is just not going to cut it in November.

Never Quite Short Enough

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Despite the fact that this year’s State of the State address by Governor Richardson was billed to be his shortest to date. It still seemed a bit long to me. Then again, I always have a hard time continuing with the speech after the Governor begins spewing nonsense:

New Mexico has always been fiscally responsible.

Unlike Washington, New Mexico cannot run a deficit, nor overspend.

We must have a balanced budget.

And we have balanced the budget every single year.

If New Mexico can’t overspend, you have to wonder how we got ourselves into this pickle.  Oh wait, no wondering needed.  I know exactly how we ended up here.  We took one time funds and created recurring expense obligations – one after another after another.  There are the obvious examples like the Rail Runner and the Spaceport, and there are many more not so obvious examples, like continually throw money at education without expecting a single result.

There’s been a lot of talk about increasing taxes this session, but the shot heard round the world should serve as a warning to those that prefer tax raising over spending cuts.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nEoW-P81-0]

Weak Attempt at an Alibi

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

We’ve all seen the movie plot line. It’s been in every mob movie made to date. The mob boss needs an alibi.  So, he makes a point of being seen somewhere other than the scene of the crime.  After all, if he was seen by hundreds at a party, how could he possibly be linked to the crime in question.  Sure, his hired guns were there, but hey, there’s no guilt by association, right?

The State Investment Council got together this week to hear what outside consultants found in their review of the agency. 

To no surprise, Gov. Bill Richardson, who chairs the council and controls it through his appointment of a majority of its members, didn’t attend the council meeting.
        

As I first reported last February, Richardson has rarely attended the meetings of the State Investment Council, which invests billions of dollars in state endowment funds.
        

Now, the governor is using his absence in an apparent bid to distance himself from the scandal that has rocked the council over the past several months.
        

“The reality is I left decisions to my state investment board,” Richardson told reporters Tuesday. “I hardly attended meetings. I felt that I shouldn’t be part of decisions.”

Now we know why the movie industry loves to come to New Mexico. We provide great inspiration for future plot lines.

Blood in the Water

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

There must be blood in the water because the sharks are most definitely starting to circle closer and closer:

A records clerk at New Mexico State University is suing past and present state officials and a couple of controversial financial firms in a class-action suit to recapture money lost in questionable investments by the state Educational Retirement Board.

The suit, filed by Donna Hill of Las Cruces, seeks to win back money for 95,000 beneficiaries of the state educators’ pension fund.

Hill, in an e-mail Tuesday, referred all questions to one of her lawyers, Jonathan Cuneo of Washington, D.C.

This suit appears to be identical to another suit that has been filed based on the questionable management of funds by the State Investment Council (SIC). Actually, calling the investment practices questionable is probably a bit too kind. Heck, calling them “investments” is in itself a bit of a misnomer:

The tab for bad investments the state made with Chicago-based Vanderbilt Capital just got worse — to the tune of at least another $65 million.
    

The Legislative Finance Committee is now estimating the state lost $155 million in a series of highly leveraged mortgage investments with Vanderbilt, up from earlier estimates of $90 million.
    

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee was told by a private attorney whose client is suing to reclaim the losses that the red ink on the investments could go as high as $200 million.
    

Legislators were not happy .
    

“We’ve got a budget crisis, an ethics crisis and an investment crisis,” said Sen. Cisco McSorley, an Albuquerque Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I don’t know if we can deal with all three in a 30-day session.”
    

The concern was bipartisan. 

While this news was breaking, our fearless Governor Richardson, Chairman of the SIC, was addressing the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (GACC) on his plans to raise taxes by $200 million – just a little more than the amount of taxpayer money the SIC “lost” under the administration’s watch. 

Now, for those who might be tempted to argue that the Governor was simply derelict in his duties when it came to oversight of the SIC investment practice, consider this latest finding from an independent third party:


An outside review of the State Investment Council, commissioned after a string of scandals, recommends significantly curtailing the governor’s power over the SIC. 




Scandal after scandal is bound to hurt those seeking office in 2010 with deep ties to the administration. After all, how much more can they expect the public to tolerate in the current economy?


On the negative side, said Larry Waldman, senior research scientist at UNM’s Business and Economic Research, “The local situation is terrible. Job growth is the lowest it has been since at least World War II. It’s worse than most people thought it would be.” He said New Mexico’s economy probably won’t show signs of recovery until at least the second quarter of this year. 

 Hmm, not exactly the time most rationale people would think to promote regressive taxes, but then again, it’s not like this administration has ever really been concerned about the needs of everyday New Mexicans.

Executive Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2011

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Governor Bill Richardson’s 181-page Executive Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2011 was released yesterday, and I’m having a really hard time making it past page ten:

Governor Richardson believes government must be managed in a fiscally responsible manner, and that every government program must be held accountable to the taxpayers. Throughout his administration Governor Richardson has worked to make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely. He has required state agencies to find efficiencies, streamline existing processes, realign resources as policy priorities change, and collaborate to reduce duplication and bureaucracy.

During his first year in office, the Governor implemented a number of efficiency measures, including eliminating unnecessary contracts, maximizing federal and other revenue, shifting dollars to the classroom, executing strategic purchasing and implementing a statewide performance review that by FY07 resulted in more than $80 million in savings to the citizens of New Mexico. He also stepped up enforcement against tax fraud to collect more back-taxes owed.

The only explanation for the above excerpt actually showing up in print is that the Governor has found money to hire joke writers. After all, there is a lot that can be said about how the Richardson Administration has managed the state, but the words “fiscally responsible” don’t belong anywhere in that description.

Let’s look at some of the key points being made here.

  1. “Every government program must be held accountable to the taxpayers” – When was the last time you heard about a government program being held accountable under the Richardson Administration? The correct response would be never.  The only government programs that have been shutdown for a lack of accountability have come about as a result of external indictments. Heck, even the proposed across the board “3-percent reduction in spending” is a way of avoiding holding individual programs accountable.
     
  2. “Throughout his administration Governor Richardson has worked to make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely.” – Talk about re-writing history. I’m trying to understand how losing $90 million in an effort to fill the pockets of campaign contributors is considered spending tax dollars wisely.
  3. “He has required state agencies to find efficiencies, streamline existing processes, realign resources as policy priorities change, and collaborate to reduce duplication and bureaucracy.” Let’s see, hardly a year went by where the Governor did not create new layers of government or dole out high paying government jobs to supporters. How this can be seen as reducing duplication and bureaucracy is anyone’s guess.

The rest of his claims are just as ridiculous.  Scanning through the actual line item proposals actually leaves one scratching his head as well. Sure, there are a lot of proposed cuts, but its the proposed increases that just don’t make a lot of sense.  For example when considering must haves during a time of economic crisis, consider whether these make the top of your list?

  1. 26.2% budget increase for the Athletic Trainers Practice Board
  2. 11% budget increase for the Interior Design Board
  3. 489% budget increase for the Office of the Natural Resources Trustee
  4. 28% budget increase for the Legislature

All I can say is that’s an interesting choice of priorities when you’re going to be coming after the taxpaying public for even more tax dollars.

    2010 The Year of the Tax Increase

    Thursday, December 31st, 2009

    Every year Governor Richardson gives a name to the upcoming legislative session. Well, if even a small part of the proposals made by Governor Richardson’s Budget Balancing Task Force come to pass, the 2010 legislative session will be known as The Year of the Tax Increase. Actually, we should probably make that plural. This 400+ page document has tax upon tax upon tax proposed as the solution to our supposed budget woes.

    Some of these tax increases, if passed, would take effect TOMORROW. I kid you not. Proposed income tax increases would begin tomorrow and are designed to take $327,971,000 out of our pockets over the next five years and give it to elected officials to make up for their spending spree over the last seven years. Now, while the economy, at least temporarily, does not seem to be getting worse, it also doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  Unemployment numbers are holding steady at levels not seen since the 1940’s:

    New Mexico’s jobless rate remained steady at 7.8 percent in November, the same as the previous month but much higher than the 4.6 percent rate in November 2008.
        

    The national unemployment rate in November decreased to 10 percent.
        

    The state’s labor department, the Department of Workforce Solutions, says the state lost 25,400 jobs over the past year.
        

    The department says the decline in the number of jobs is the worst New Mexico has seen in modern times and it will be a number of years until employment reaches pre-recession levels. 

    That’s right, it will be many more years until we get back to healthy rates of employment and a growing economy.  Yet, for those of you lucky enough to be holding a job, you’re going to find yourself, not only working harder because you’re doing the work that used to be done by two or more people, but also working for less, because state government is going to be taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of your pocket.


    Remember all tax increases are permanent. It’s just the nature of the beast. Consider this from the report:


    The gross receipts tax was first levied in 1934 (as the emergency school tax) as a temporary measure to keep the schools open; it was made permanent in 1935. The tax applied to almost all business sectors, including services. This contrasted markedly with other early-adopter states, like Mississippi, which taxed only sales of tangible goods. In 1966, the tax was reorganized and renamed as the gross receipts tax.

    Government  always uses some sort of “emergency” to rationalize its takings, be they individual freedoms or financial. However, long after the “emergency” has subsided, what was supposed to be a temporary measure becomes permanent.  There are those who think it is time to raise these GRT taxes even higher. Yet, consider that:

    The table following the map shows that New Mexico’s average tax rate is the 28th highest out of the 46 states with a sales tax. However, New Mexico ranks fifth highest in terms of sales tax revenue as a percent of personal income, a result of both the relatively low level of personal income in New Mexico and the broad base of New Mexico’s gross receipts tax.

    What, fifth highest in terms of sales tax revenue is not high enough? We want to be number one? I really don’t see how being at the top of this list would be a good thing. Let me put this in another perspective, total GRT collected from us, the taxpaying public, in 2004 was $2.3 BILLION.  Five years later, the economic crisis has resulted in only $3.2 BILLION taken from our bank accounts.

    Wait a second! That’s not a decline in GRT.  That’s an increase in GRT revenue ! In fact, that’s a 38% increase in taxes in collected.  Now, ask yourself, am I making 38% more today than I was five years ago?  If the answer is yes, well, you’re lucky. But, the truth is that as a whole we’re only making about 22% more today than we were in 2004.  If the government thinks they are in a crisis, then the taxpaying public must be beyond crisis. Yet, they want to raise our taxes even more.

    I could go on, but I think you get the point.  State government IS NOT in a revenue crisis situation.  The problem is that spending has been out of step with reality for many years now.  At the very least, we should be cutting expenses back to 2004 levels. If you doubt me, then ask yourself, are my neighbors, family and friends better off today that they were in 2004? I’d be very surprised if you could answer that with a “yes”.

    If you’re the type to make New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve got easy one for you to make.  Resolve to call your legislators and the Governor, assuming you can locate him, and let them know if they like elected office, they will cut spending to bring it in line with our income growth before considering a single additional tax.