UP thumb ... JUSTICE SERVED. Manny Aragon got what he deserved: He’ll be in federal prison for the next five and a half years. The longtime state Senate leader bilked taxpayers out of millions of dollars in a kickback scheme, and he had pleaded guilty to it.
Aragon, a former Highlands University president, had plenty of support from the upper echelons of society — the archbishop and state government bigwigs — all of whom pleaded with a federal judge to go lenient on Aragon. But Aragon already got a good deal from prosecutors: If he hadn’t entered a plea agreement, he likely would have gotten much more prison time if his case had gone before a jury.
Aragon’s supporters said he spent his career looking out for the poor. However, this case demonstrates otherwise: Manny was also looking out for, well, Manny.
DOWN thumb ... SYMPATHETIC? DARN RIGHT WE ARE. We know defense attorneys have a job to do, but so do we. Recently, Bob Gorence, an Albuquerque attorney, asked a local judge to move the case involving his client, David Levi Chavez, out of town. Chavez is accused of killing 6-year-old Jasmine Garcia.
He complained about coverage in the Optic and other media about the crime. He didn’t like how this newspaper had been publishing a photo of the victim in her kindergarten graduation cap and gown. And he pointed out that we had the gall to print Chavez’s address. Other media, Gorence contends, included quotes from people who painted a sympathetic portrait of the girl.
No one should be blamed for getting emotional when a 6-year-old, soundly sleeping late at night, is shot to death. But we don’t think that’s enough to move the trial to another city.
Chavez is innocent until proven guilty, and he should be tried by a jury of his peers. As it stands, his attorney has yet to demonstrate that a local jury would be tainted by media coverage.
DOWN thumb ... ONE BIG MESS. West Las Vegas Middle School had to be closed for cleanup after a sewer backup caused considerable damage to the school’s west wing. Classes resumed this week but work continues on the affected area — and will for probably another week or two. The district hired a company that specializes in this type of cleanup, so hopefully the disruption will be kept to a minimum.
UP thumb ... DO YOU THINK THEY GET IT? We’re glad to see the politicos talking tougher each day about the $165 million in post-bailout bonuses that AIG has been doling out to its top dogs. But we must wonder, why is Washington reacting now, when these bonuses started coming to light in early March? Clearly, our elected officials — many of whom received sizable campaign contributions from AIG — are reacting to the growing public outrage over this use of public funds.
Interestingly, the Senate on Tuesday voted to dump the system of giving automatic raises to members of Congress. Maybe there’s hope for them yet.
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AND WE QUOTE
“When we make a bad hire, it resonates in the community. ... We’re under the microscope.”
— Abelino Montoya, Luna Community College trustee, regarding the school’s hiring process.