BernCo refusal of Democracy Dollars ballot item could be costly to ABQ

Leaders of the Albuquerque “Democracy Dollars” public financing ballot initiative want the Bernalillo County commissioners to call a special meeting next Tuesday to vote again on placing the charter amendment proposal on the November ballot. This time with a public comment period on that issue alone. If commissioners refuse, the city may be on the hook for a special election. The question at issue is whether a special city election will be triggered if the county commission does not allow voters to vote on the petition this November. NM In Depth has asked the city attorney, but has yet to receive a reply. 

Article six of the city charter addresses how amendments to the charter can be made.

Democracy Dollars proposal squashed by Bernco commissioners

The Bernalillo County Commission voted last night not to put a public financing proposal on the November ballot. The vote was 3-2 with Democrat Steven Quezada and Republicans Lonnie Talbert and Jim Smith voting against the measure. Almost 28,000 Albuquerque voters signed petitions to put the measure on the ballot, to fix a city public financing statute that was hobbled by a U.S. Supreme Court decision back in 2011. Quezada told the Albuquerque Journal he had too many questions about the proposal, and asked, “…why am I making a decision that the city councilors aren’t doing?” Talbert was more blunt, according to the NM Political Report.

ABQ Democracy Dollars proposal would increase mayoral campaign cash

A decade ago, it seemed Albuquerque’s new public financing program had proven itself. All three mayoral candidates in 2009 used public money to run their campaigns, keeping expenditures under $400,000 each, well below the almost $1.2 million the incumbent mayor had spent in 2005 to get re-elected. Public financing freed candidates to talk to voters rather than spend all their time fundraising, supporters said, while making it possible for them to compete against candidates raising money from big donors. They also hoped reducing the amount of money spent might inspire more confidence in the political process. Then a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Arizona case invalidated a provision in Albuquerque’s law that provided additional funds when expenditures by private competitors exceeded the initial city disbursements to publicly funded candidates.

Immigrants share harrowing tales from detention

Carlos Medrano of Mexico had to wait six days before guards let him call his family from the Otero County correctional facility where he spent two and a half months, incarcerated by a private prison company that holds undocumented immigrants for the federal government. “They didn’t respect us,” Medrano told New Mexico state lawmakers through a translator in Santa Fe on Monday. Roberto Gonzalez of Anthony, New Mexico, talked about the sadness he felt at not seeing his family for three months. Gonzalez was arrested outside a courthouse where he had gone to conduct business that “he had a right to conduct” by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, he said through a translator. Like Medrano, Gonzalez found himself locked up in one of two facilities in New Mexico that house undocumented immigrants for ICE.

While migrant families seek shelter from violence, Trump administration narrows path to asylum

For nearly all of its history, the United States has welcomed the world’s most vulnerable: men, women and children fleeing violence, persecution and death in their home countries. But under President Donald Trump, immigration lawyers and historians say, the legal path to safety in this country is being systematically narrowed, a process that started long before family separations drew international attention to the nation’s southern border. As federal officials clamp down on asylum, citing a need to root out abuse — and as Trump himself complains of drawn-out court proceedings that grant legal rights to migrants — concerns are mounting that the administration is undermining the country’s long-standing commitment to sheltering the helpless. “While migrant families seek shelter from violence, Trump administration narrows path to asylum” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.Immigration officials have set up de facto blockades at government-sanctioned ports of entry, where asylum-seekers attempting to enter the country the “right” way have been delayed or turned away. Women seeking refuge from domestic abuse are reportedly being denied asylum because the U.S. attorney general decided they rarely qualify for safe harbor.

Albuquerque aviation company mum on federal contracts related to immigration

A New Mexico aviation company owned by a prominent Republican businessman has active contracts with the federal agency charged with housing migrant children once they cross the border. Albuquerque-based CSI Aviation Inc., owned by Allen Weh, a former GOP candidate for New Mexico governor and U.S. Senate, has won multiple contracts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for transportation and relocation services that occurred in 2017 and 2018, a review of federal government databases shows. In a June 23 news release HHS said when families are apprehended at the border they’re processed first by the U.S. Border Patrol, which then separates the children, placing them in the custody of the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. The parents are sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for processing. There were 2,053 “separated minors” in HHS facilities on June 20, which is 17 percent of minors under the care of HHS, the agency said.

Special interests still flock to incumbents in heated House primary races

Incumbents in four state House races that will likely be decided in next week’s primary show significant special interest support in Thursday’s final campaign reports, which reflect their contributions for most of May. If money tells anything about a political race, the reports also show two of the incumbents are being given a solid run for their seats. And while a third has an outsized bank account, her challenger has scooped up a lot more cash from individuals. New Mexico In Depth previously looked at the financial advantage incumbents have due to special interest support in the four Democratic state house races:

District 41: State Rep. Debbie Rodella versus Susan Herrera
District 46: State Rep. Carl Trujillo versus Andrea Romero
District 13: State Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero versus Robert Atencio
District 34: State Rep. Bealquin Gomez versus Raymundo Lara

The reports filed Thursday capture most contributions in May, in the wake of explosive sexual harassment allegations against Trujillo and an increasingly negative campaign waged by Rodella. Meanwhile, oil and gas interests on one side and progressive groups on the other stirred themselves in what had been a relatively quiet Albuquerque race in Roybal Caballero’s district.