March 23, 2016

Odds and Ends: Deaths from DWI hit new low

Photo Credit: eviloars cc

—Deaths from DWI hit new low.

From listening to the rhetoric during this year’s legislative session, you might think that DWI deaths and crashes were up dramatically in recent years.

Photo Credit: eviloars cc

Photo Credit: eviloars cc

However today, Gov. Susana Martinez announced that deaths from DWI hit a record low.

In 2015, 122 deaths were attributed to DWI; that’s a new low since New Mexico started tracking DWI fatalities in 1970.

“DWI has been a major problem in our state for a long time. I’m encouraged by this progress. A 36-year low in DWI deaths is a big deal. But our greatest challenge remains: ending drunk driving for good and getting that number to zero,” Martinez said in a statemetn. “We still have a lot of work to do. Every one of those 122 deaths was a terrible tragedy for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, families, and friends all across our state. One death due to DWI is one too many.”

—Our friends over at ABQ Free Press are getting shut out by the city of Albuquerque.

Here’s what editor Dan Vukelich says:

In all, between this writer and Associate Editor Dennis Domrzalski, we’re something like 0-for-50 in calls, emails and texts to City Hall seeking comment. It’s their right not to talk to us if they don’t want to tell their side of the story, but we believe they’ve gone too far.

This is something we can relate to here at NM Political Report. We will usually get responses from the city of Albuquerque, but the governor’s office ignores requests for comment from our news organization on stories big and small.

With Susana Martinez rarely doing news conferences (and when they do, they sometimes try to control who can ask questions), it’s rare to get a comment from her office.

It should be noted that these are highly paid public employees—the governor’s Director of Communications Chris Sanchez makes nearly $81,000 per year. Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry’s Director of Communications makes nearly $70,000 per year.

We had similar problems with the Bill Richardson administration back when I worked for the New Mexico Independent; we stopped even getting press releases from his pres shop (luckily other members of the press from the state would forward us the press releases when they came in. Journalists, as a rule, don’t like obstruction by PIOs).

—Pearce doesn’t like Obama’s Cuba trip.

Rep. Steve Pearce was highly critical of President Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba this week.

“The President stated in December that he would go to Cuba when there is progress in the liberty and freedom of the Cuban people; however Cuba has failed to make any progress on this front,” Pearce said. “Despite horrific ongoing human rights violations and harboring known fugitives, the Obama Administration dropped Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and loosened longstanding sanctions with no real requirement for political reform or rights reform.“

Pearce also mentioned Charlie Hill, who allegedly killed a state police officer before hijacking a plane and fleeing to Cuba in the 1970s.

“Charles Hill has evaded U.S. prosecution for almost half a century while the Rosenbloom family waits for justice,” he said. “This is why I introduced legislation that would prohibit the FAA from allowing US flights to Cuba until these fugitives are returned to American soil.”

—Johnson communications director in Brussels.

The former communications director for Gary Johnson was in Brussels during the recent terror attacks, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.

“We arrived by train from London at midnight last night,” Hill said in an email Tuesday evening. “Our hotel is a few metro stops away from the blast. We were told not to leave the hotel so we are following instructions.”

Hill said the staff at the hotel was “extremely responsive. Received a detailed letter this morning with instructions and some extra steps the property was taking to ensure safety.”