Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Monster Land Deal Points To Politics Of The Future, And: Minimum Wage Misstep? Plus: My Best Restaurant Tips Just For You; Come Blog With Me! 

One of the biggest private land deals in New Mexico history provides the outline of the future Albuquerque your children and grandchildren will call home. For aspiring politicos the message may again be "move West, young men and women." That's where the votes are going to be, and the power. Breaking late Monday in the New Mexico Business Weekly, the monster deal is a stunner.

"Someone is preparing to buy 57,000 acres of mostly vacant land west of Albuquerque for $160 million in a deal that could change the landscape of the city. Westland Development Co. said it has reached an agreement in principal to sell its 800,000 shares of stock to an unnamed third party for $200 per share. The deal would transfer to the buyer all of Westland's assets, including the land, which is what's left of the historic Atrisco Land Grant that dates to 1692, said Westland President and CEO Barbara Page."

Yes, this is reminiscent of the establishment of Rio Rancho over 30 years ago. This time, however, the development would eventually be part of the city of Albuquerque. If the city is to sprawl this far West, it is imperative that old ABQ and its downtown not be ignored. If it is, it will be a rich and new West and a poor and downtrodden East. A downtown ABQ with world-class museums, zoo, restaurants and other tourist attractions should not be a pipe dream. It's clear that a metro area of one million is closer than many thought.


Speaking of poverty, how about that ABQ Journal poll showing a whopping 61% of the ABQ electorate supporting the minimum wage hike on the Oct 4 ballot? Heck, only half the R's are negative. "I am proud of Albuquerque," said Steve Cabiedes, political organizer and longtime liberal. Steve and others of the liberal stripe say even the wealthy are fed up with the lousy wages taht have been a generations old issue. "Everyone is sick of it across the board," commented Cabiedes. But a bizarre labor-backed provision in the initiative that is apparently aimed at increasing union membership could mean its undoing. Why did the city councilors who support the wage boost allow this? What is the real deal? Political support? Financial support? There ar going to be some upset folks if the wage hike to $7.50 an hour is killed because of a political deal with big labor. Cabiedes maintians it will still pass. "People are not going to focus on that. Even a negative campaign will have a hard time explaining it," he said. We shall see.


How could two ABQ cops be killed when they were wearing bullet proof vests? Asked several e-mails to this corner, We asked some of our sources in area law enforcement who tell us that the officers were ambushed and one was shot directly in the head and the other died when he was shot in the side. The murders forced the ABQ mayoral campaign into the dark with Mayor Marty pulling his TV ads until after the funerals. The other campaigns did not have media up when the murders took place last week.


You gotta eat. And it's high time I updated the ABQ restaurant scene for politicos here and for the many who travel into the big city for business and pleasure. Here's my list of the top restaurants, in no particular order, for a summer sojourn. New Orleans chain Zea Rotisserie has arrived in ABQ and is a real crowd pleaser. Good service and roomy seating so you can talk La Politica in private...Graze may be the best restaurant in the state right now. Near UNM on Nob Hill, it is an appetizer menu, but don't be fooled, the ingredients are top notch and you leave satisfied. It's a younger crowd. Good seating...Cafe Miche is hitting on all cylinders and is the top pick in town for French foodies... Yanni's is Greek and very political when owner Nick Kapinson is around. Still good after all these years...Zinc is a newcomer near Yanni's on Nob Hill. Nice presentation, cosmopolitan feel. Nice for out-of towners who want to get away from it all... Barelas Coffee House on Fourth SW is a must for politicos from across our Enchanted Land. Good enchiladas. Service is always a question mark.

That should keep you busy and full for at lest a while, E-mail me that favorite of yours that I missed. Let's get together again tomorrow.

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