Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fires, Bombs and Boredom


Early this morning Albuquerque lost not just a landmark, but one of the best medium-sized concert halls in the state . The El Rey theater endured serious injury as its sister saloon was obliterated. Before we all cry out “why couldn’t this happen to the theater at the other end of downtown” hear the plea from the owner, Kathy Zimmer.

Zimmer is reaching out to the community for help in rebuilding a venue that is not replicated in town. Luckily for her, she doesn’t own the theater at the other end of the downtown strip and we should all be able to remember how grateful we are every time our favorite bands comes to Albuquerque, but not the Sunshine Theater. Expect some major fundraisers to be put together and don’t misplace your checkbook between now and then.

Hopefully, local leaders like Martin Heinrich can take the lead in generating the support needed to restore the historic theater and keep the good times rolling. In-fill and responsible growth with respect to the historic landscape were key projects of the former City Councilor. He did well extending Nob Hill toward San Mateo with quality businesses as he shut down seedy motels that balanced their books with illegal operations. Maybe he can tap into the extra $7 million accrued by the Red Light Cameras to fund the restoration of a much-needed performance space.

Who did this?

On the other side of the soon-to-be ticket for Albuquerque’s Congressional Seat is the New Mexico for Bush Director and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White. No doubt he will emphasize Albuquerque’s need for improved safety while shirking the responsibility a sitting sheriff would have for just that. The Albuquerque Journal has sold their copies in the last week with sensational stories on rising crime rates. This has led the political discussion to the debate on public safety. Will anyone hold his feet to the fire for being the sitting sheriff as crime stats moved in the wrong direction? Or will the voters buy his pitches that he is the right man to protect you and your children? And for anyone that wants to play devil’s advocate, maybe you should ask the sheriff why he would want to leave an office focused solely on public safety in exchange for being one vote in 435? Maybe being sheriff is about more than protecting your fellow citizens. . .

Bloomberg Bows Out

New York City's mayor has finally dropped the bomb and given a definitive answer on whether he will or will not pursue the white house. While this was not expected to happen before the D and R nominees were selected, it comes as no surprise. He had cozied up with Barack Obama and was thought to be working with the Illinois Senator. He was only expected to run if Clinton earned the Democratic nomination and now that it seems this will not be the case, he has thrown his political weight around in favor of Obama. People that have been holding their breath for his entry will now be forced to pick between Clinton and Obama.

Polls have shown from the beginning of the race that people do not support Clinton would not support Clinton if their personal favorite were not in the running. Slap your local reporter if you catch him or her asking Bloomberg if he would accept being Vice President. Of course he would, but none of the remaining candidates will extend such an offer. Remember what the two reasons to join a political party were? To vote in the primaries and run for office. As he is an independent politician, he will stay independent of any ticket. However, expect him to still play an active role through Election Day.

More local political fun

Get the statewide candidates Richardson Clearance for Saturday as they hit the road and glad-hand soon-to-be delegates at the county level pre-primary conventions. The most populous counties of the state will hold their conventions. Bernalillo (Albuquerque), Sandoval (Rio Rancho) Santa Fe (take a guess), Luna (Deming), Quay (Tucumcari) and Valencia (Belen and Los Lunas) will all confirm eligible attendees as they are showered in breakfast burritos, coffee, lapel pins and other campaign SWAG.

It is unfortunate for Luna and Quay that their meetings landed on the same day as four of the five most heavily populated counties in the state. All of the counties begin between 9 and 10:30 in the morning leaving minimal chance a candidate can make even two meetings. While there may be little to gain, a snub by a favorite candidate will surely lead to a loss of support in that county. . . who knows how that will translate in the slightly more important State Pre-Primary Convention. One thing is certain: sending a rookie staffer as your surrogate is a sure-fire way to write off that county’s support. Just ask Geno Zamora how he did in Valencia.

The winner of this weekend’s festivities will surely be the local businesses that provide all of the union-approved food and printed goods. The loser: anyone responsible for cleaning up after the convention. Most attendees will show up at 9:30, sign in, eat their free burritos and be on their way as soon as the convention begins at 10. It will be a lonely gym for those that have to tear down the thousands of signs and pick up the empty cups.

This step in the process is all theatrics with little to no implications. It is an opportunity for the candidates to have the most active members of the party gathered together and to solicit their support. And for the dirtier politickers, the official vote at the State Convention is public record and you can expect it to be held against you. For those dreading their morning at Cibola High, be grateful you don't have to pay to play like the Republicans. If you attend and are able to keep your clothing free of a campaign sticker without making anyone cry, please share your secret with all of us (and a photo to prove it).

Are you feeling left out of the process? Its probably too late to be a delegate this year, but you can find your county’s pre-primary convention on the New Mexico Democrats’ website. Insiders will have a full report on everything that happens at the Bernalillo Convention on Monday's blog.

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