Friday, September 09, 2005

Hurricane Politics; Change In the Air? Minimum Wage Backers Wonder, Plus: The Big Bill Barometer, And: My Readers Mailbag; It's Full Of Good Stuff 

Have the winds of Katrina ushered in lasting political change? And if so, what will be the effects in our Enchanted Land? It's a question being mulled over as politicos assess the ongoing coverage of the big storm and fill up on three buck a gallon gas.

"My gut tells me this news atmosphere is softening ABQ voters on increasing the minimum wage. Now the governor, just days after the hurricane, is willing to risk political capital and advocate a boost in the statewide minimum wage. Gas prices are a driver, but you have to wonder if we are getting ready for a shift on other domestic issues," analyzed a longtime observer of La Politica.

ABQ voters will decide a minimum wage increase to $7.50 an hour October 4th. A statewide increase will go before the Legislature.

The images of a huge underclass being evacuated from New Orleans may have awakened Americans to a reality usually hidden. The devastation could give rise to a more pro-government electorate, at least when it comes to social services. That would translate into more supprot for Social Security, health care coverage and the aforementioned minimum wage. Supporting the wage boost is the easy politico call with the ABQ Journal poll showing the measure winning 61% of the electorate, even before Katrina. For Big Bill it's a chance to do something for activist Dems who are none too happy with his tax cuts for the wealthy. But the answer to the larger question of whether there will be a lasting political shift in the New Mexico and American political landscape is still blowing in the wind. Stay tuned.


Our report that Ray Powell was getting into the race for the Dem nomination for state land commissioner and that he had not overly alienated the oil and gas industry in his two previous terms as commissioner, earned me this admonishment from a leading figure in that industry: "I must take exception to your comment that he did not totally alienate the oil and gas industry. He was the worst commissioner in our state's history in dealing with, or for that matter, refusing to deal with, the industry. His liberal, arrogant manner have no place in the land commissioner's job. Thanks, now I feel better."

I'm sure you do, but I am not so sure about Ray.

Venting on Bush and Big Bill came from independent gubernatorial candidate Eli Chavez: "Most politicians only worry about the money and could care less about the people. Gov. Richardson has not responded to New Mexico's needs but he has addressed his own needs. He purchased a $5.5 million jet while 40% of our state's residents do not have health insurance. Where was Bush after the Hurricane? The Bush Administration cut millions from the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the list goes on. It's not about people anymore, it is about big money," charged Eli who ended his missive by inviting me to coffee. OK, as long as its decaf, buddy.


We received a record amount of e-mail on our blogs on Hurricane Katrina. Gail Oliver of Albuquerque represented most of them: "You are 100% right on! If this isn't a wake up call to our nation, and if this doesn't compel others to get into the political arena, I can't imagine what other scenario would."

Thanks Gail. I hope we are both right. And thanks to my many other correspondents for their thoughtful and heartfelt comments.

Finally, my early morning readers yesterday saw here that there would be only one televised ABQ mayoral televised debate. Actually, I am told there will be two more debates and you can look below for the revised info. Have a great weekend!

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