We think that it's fair to say that the Almighty Mayor has supported this program with an almost religious fervor. Suddenly, (and we probably should have expected this) the Napoleon of the 11th floor has decided to form a "Task Force" to study the scam-era program saying that the program is not "delivering on its promises" (ABQ Journal - Subscription).
For months these little scam-era money makers have been snapping away at Albuquerque drives sucking money out of our pockets faster than three dollar a gallon gas pumps. Last week both KRQE and KOAT did exposés on Marty's scam-eras and found that of the $10.6 MILLION snapped up by the scam-eras $4.8 MILLION went to operation costs and $5.8 MILLION went into the city's general fund (read them here and here). Now on Marty's favorite day to manipulate the media, he's out there announcing a "task force." What's going on here?
The obvious answer is that the diminutive mayor is trying to find a way to get some political cover. You see His Honor has 20 scam-era millstones firmly tied around his political neck; millstones that have the potential to sink his Senatorial campaign. Marty needs a political life vest - a nine person dingy would be even better.
We're always skeptical of task forces and blue ribbon commissions. Their most common function is to provide political cover or to sell an unpopular program. They're always an indication of a lack of political leadership and fortitude.
This task force is no different. It will be stacked to produce a predetermined outcome and will take just enough time to keep the scam-eras off the table during next year's election.
(Sidebar)There's another angle to this task force move by Marty; one that's not immediately apparent. You see... The Legislature has been uncomfortable with a red light scam-era system that fills city coffers at the expense of the State of New Mexico. Legislators are concerned that other cities in New Mexico will steal the idea in order to fill their own municipal war chests.
The good news for Marty is that he won't need the task force for the full election year as The Journal is no reporting that Tom Udall is in the race for the Democratic nomination for Senate (Subscription); which is both good news and bad news for Ds. They will get their progressive and a top tier opponent for the Amighty Alcalde, but lose an almost sure thing.
Our Eyes tell us that this task force is also intended to short circuit the Legislature whose next session is a short 30 day session. Marty and his Minions will be busy selling the idea that there's a task force looking at the problem and they may get rid of the system anyway, so the Legislature doesn't need to waste time during a short session on legislation designed to kill or redirect the proceeds from a program that will probably be substantially changed anyway.
The reasons behind the task force don't really matter. The whole thing is a sham designed to fool the voters and freeze legislators. It's all part of the blame game; a game that we've seen played far too often.