Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Block resigns and pleads guilty

The New Mexican's Steve Terrell is in the courtroom for today's Jerome Block hearing, where he just tweeted that Block has plead guilty and will resign.

Follow the New Mexican on Twitter for updates.

And, here's the info just released by the Attorney General's Office.

Attorney General Gary King says Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. has agreed to resign and plead guilty to multiple felonies involving two separate cases.

“Another important step was taken today in the prosecution of government corruption in New Mexico,” says AG King. “I congratulate my Government Accountability Division staffers for their good work and dedication in pursuing this matter.”

The PRC Commissioner agrees to plead guilty to two (2) separate embezzlement charges; fraudulent use of a credit card; theft of identity; violation of the state Election Code, Campaign Reporting Act, and Voter Action Act; and conspiracy to commit violation of the Election Code.

Block, Jr. has also agreed never to seek public office again and to repay the state for all improper charges involving state gasoline charge cards. The Attorney General adds that the state can likely save a million dollars in expected costs for impeachment proceedings in the legislature.

A sentencing agreement requires the defendant to successfully complete a drug court program and meet other requirements before final sentencing by the Court.

Friday, September 23, 2011

GQ's long but fascinating look at Gary Johnson

After last night's presidential debate, our former governor is starting to get a little traction, at least according to his campaign, which this morning said in a release that his name is now the number one search on Google.

Well because I already have a Google alert in my email for Gary Johnson, I just took a peek at the GQ profile of him. It's a fun read.

I like the description in the piece of him in a bike shop in Hooksett, New Hampshire, a state where all the contenders have been.

Gary? He's talking about bikes. Weight and tire pressure. He's telling the guys at the store that he needs to rent one for some race he's in. His two aides, Brinck and Matt—who constitute his entire paid New Hampshire staff—give him the look. The one that says: Maybe you should mention you're running for frickin president. But Gary's on to pedals now. He brought his own pedals with him from New Mexico. Would have taken the whole damn bike, but it would've cost too much to fly it here.

Classic Johnson. After being excluded from so many debates, maybe we'll start to see more of him in the upcoming ones.

Some tourism employees got canned, public gets ... a can

The Department of Tourism earlier this week had to lay off some folks who worked for the New Mexico Magazine. The same department earlier this year got an eight-foot can to promote an anti-littering campaign. Although the two pots of money are separate, the purchase is raising some eyebrows.

Read my story about the $26,400, eight-foot can in today's paper here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Keep track of lawmakers votes, attendance record

The New Mexico state Legislature is a lot to keep track of, what with 112 members, who knows how many bills and things happening at all hours.

But the folks at the conservative Rio Grande Foundation have a tool they say will help average folks keep tabs on the happenings in the Roundhouse.

The group first launched the site in 2008, and I have used it from time to time to look up how a lawmaker voted on a specific issue. One handy feature allows you to look up votes a lawmaker cast that went against the majority of votes in his or her party. Users can also see how many votes a lawmaker has missed. The info is helpful now during the session and I'm guessing gets even more hits around election time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stay up to date on the go

Just in the nick of time, the Legislature's web site has a nifty app to help you keep tabs on the lawmakers from your phone.

The lawmakers are back in town starting today to talk on meaty topics including redistricting. But don't expect much real work for a few days as they get organized again. Sources say this special session could take a month or more. . .

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A site for DIY redistricters

I know you are out there: people who want to know a little more about the state's redistricting effort than you will get from us media types during the upcoming special session. (Newspapers just don't have the space anymore to cover every machination of the debate.)

So check out the Legislature's redistricting page for more info on meetings, (done until the special session starts) maps and population information.

PRC employee says he was fired for reporting others' misuse of computers

After so many years covering state government, I have lost track of how many of stories I have written about the PRC.

Here is my latest, from today's paper. In short, a former employee says he was fired for reporting that other agency employees were looking up inappropriate information online.

The kind of funny part is that while employees allegedly were looking up things they aren't supposed to, several employees have said that political blogs including this one are blocked from being viewed at the agency.