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Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Senate Panel OKs Conroy Chino

By Loie Fecteau
Journal Politics Writer
    SANTA FE State Labor Secretary-designate Conroy Chino, a member of Acoma Pueblo and former investigative reporter for two Albuquerque television stations, won the unanimous endorsement of a Senate committee Monday.
    The Senate Rules Committee also voted unanimously to support two other nominees of Gov. Bill Richardson: James Jimenez as secretary of the state Department of Finance and Administration and Gary Bland as state investment officer.
    The three Richardson nominees are expected to be considered for confirmation today by the full Senate.
    Chino told the committee that he understood some legislators might consider him an adversary for his work as an investigative reporter for KOAT-TV and KOB-TV in Albuquerque.
    "That was then, this is now," Chino said. "I am anxious to prove critics wrong. I believe I'm the right person for this job."
    Chino joked that perhaps Richardson had appointed him "thinking if I was running the department, I wouldn't be running after him with a camera."
    However, Chino said he was honored and excited to be named Labor secretary. "I can get to the bottom of things and I can get results," Chino said. "I'm a leader."
    Acoma Pueblo Gov. Fred Vallo Sr. told the committee that Chino's appointment "is a great honor for our tribe."
    "This is the first time an (Acoma) tribal member has been nominated for such a position in state government," Vallo said.
    Bland, Richardson's choice as state investment officer, worked for Boeing Co. in Seattle for 28 years, most recently as vice president of trust investments. The state investment officer oversees New Mexico's nearly $10 billion permanent funds.
    Jimenez, Richardson's new budget chief, was deputy secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration under former Gov. Gary Johnson. Most recently, he served as Rio Rancho city administrator.