Monday, April 24, 2006

Cleaning Up The Mud: What Big Bill & J. R. Damron Can Do Right Now, Plus: Some Mop Up On The ABQ Minimum Wage, And: NM TV Anchor Heads East 

J.R. Damron
Big Bill has grabbed the garden hose as he attempts to wash away the mud of scandal and prevent it from sticking to him and other Dems. With the trial of ex-Treasurer Vigil in the daily headlines, the Guv is proposing yet another round of ethics reform. But any reforms proposed won't even be considered until Legislature 07'. (The last Legislature approved just one reform measure.) So what about the current campaign? With the help of several Alligators, here are some reforms that could be adopted immediately.

Big Bill and his GOP opponent, J.R. Damron, could voluntarily agree to limit the size of campaign donations which are completely unrestricted in our fair state. How about a $5,000 limit for both the primary and general. Would that cramp anyone's style?

The pair could agree to limit their overall spending. Does the Guv really need a $10 million campaign in a state of 2 million? Wouldn't half that amount get the job done?

Big Bill and Damron could also voluntarily agree to disclose on the Internet within 48 hours any campaign contribution received. Current reporting periods for politicos are few and far between.

The pair of Fourth Floor hopefuls could also immediately agree to fully disclose all travel paid for by outside interests, including plane travel.

That's probably half the suggestions that should be in the task force report asked for by the Governor. But why wait? Big Bill, heavily favored to win, could implement all these reforms without risking his re-elect and Damron could win kudos as well. Who, if anyone, has the courage to make the first move?


Mayor Marty
With passage of an ABQ minimum wage of $6.75 an hour, the ABQ Trib's Erik Siemers points out that NM's largest city is "just the fourth municipality to pass a minimum wage higher than the $5.15 an hour federal requirement. Santa Fe, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are the other cities."

Which brings us to the most undercovered aspect of the recent debate. Is the Duke City a liberal bastion like the cities above, perhaps out-of-step with the mainstream? Not at all. There are no wage battles in most cities because chronic low wages is not a severe problem. The market has adjusted the wage sufficiently upwards, while ABQ and New Mexico continue to be afflicted with too many low-wage jobs.

There is broad consensus on this point. In last year's ABQ Journal poll even a majority of Republicans were in favor of a minimum of over $7 an hour.


For generations ABQ's dreary wage environment has created an exodus of NM youth. Mayor Chavez has said as much in numerous speeches. He did not take the lead on the minimum. However, he is in the lead on another problem; the troubled public schools.

Giving a fair wage to the working poor makes ABQ more mainstream. Reducing their ranks through better education is the next step.

Chavez's bull-in-the-china-closet approach in pushing his reform proposals to give the city and Mayor more input into ABQ schools has stalled its progress. (The mayor of L.A. is taking heat for a similar proposal.) But this is a big idea. According to New Mexico First, only about 65% of NM high school students graduate, and only about 30% who leave high school do so with the credentials required to attend a four-year college. It's a good guess that the mayor's reforms have as much public support as the minimum wage boost.

Those who fought for the minimum might advance their cause further by getting on the bandwagon. For his part the mayor will continue to pound the table, but perhaps he'll use a softer headed hammer than the one he's accustomed to.


Media watchers were wondering just how long TV news anchor Jessica Kartalija would last in the ABQ market before being called up to the big leagues. They have their answer as Jessica tells me she will finish her three year stint at KOB-TV and KASA Fox 2 in June and take a reporting-anchor position with Baltimore CBS affiliate WJZ.

The mid-20's Kartalija has anchored the prime time 9 p.m. news with Jeremy Jojola on KASA Fox-2 where she has won notice from the TV pros for her natural on-camera presence and upbeat style.

The San Diego native, who spent time studying in Spain, is now off to Baltimore, the number 24 market in the USA. ABQ is ranked 46th. "I am really excited!" She exclaimed.

Que tengas suerte Jessica.

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