Monday, July 31, 2006

Eclipse Soars And Politicos Brag; What's The Catch? Plus: Heather & Patsy: Who Took July? And: Some TV News; It's All Next On Your Monday Blog 

The Eclipse 500
The politicians have been falling all over themselves to congratulate one another over initial federal approval of Eclipse Aviation's very light passenger jet that they say will "revolutionize" air travel. A common theme in the bragging is the "high wage" jobs the Albuquerque based company, the beneficiary of $100 million in taxpayer cash and assorted subsidies, will bring to the state's largest city. But will it really? Maybe it depends on your definition of a high wage job.

In a special report filled with congratulatory advertising from companies benefiting from Eclipse, the ABQ Journal did a good job of detailing the company's past, present and future. Buried deep in the report was this money line:

"Assembly jobs at Eclipse start at about $12.50 an hour." The article also said Eclipse someday hopes to employ up to 2,000 workers. (It now has about 650.) Of those 2,000 jobs, the newspaper reports, "the bulk" will be aircraft manufacturing technicians apparently earning that starting wage of $12.50 per hour. We take "bulk" to mean a majority of the 2,000. If we're incorrect, Eclipse's PR flacks, we're sure, will correct us.

At that rate, a full time employee could expect to make about $26,000 a year. Let's be generous and pump it up to $15 an hour. The yearly salary then comes in at $31,200. Not bad, but "high-wage?"


The average hourly wage of an ABQ manufacturing job, according to the NM Department of Labor, is $617 a week. $12.50 an hour works out to $500 a week; $15 an hour to $600 a week. Rather than "high wage" the majority of the projected Eclipse jobs would appear to be near average paying by NM standards and low by national standards. The U.S. Department of Labor reports the average national weekly pay for a manufacturing job is $695 a week.

Not to rain on Eclipse's parade--we've had plenty of the wet stuff lately--and recognize the jobs we're citing don't require advanced college degrees, but when the politicos say "high paying jobs" most folks think north of $40,000 a year and think all of the hoped for jobs will fit that category.

Before the yelling starts that the "free market" should set the wage levels, remember it was not the free market alone that got Eclipse flying. It was that $100 million bag of taxpayer goodies that comprises 20% of Eclipse's total investment. With that kind of money in the pot New Mexico politicians have every right, and the duty, to encourage higher wages at Eclipse. When they step up and do it, the mutual backslapping will be in order.


We scored the month of June for ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson, noting Dem Attorney General Patricia Madrid's "June swoon," as ethics headlines blanketed the state calling into question the AG's role in fighting corruption. But how about July? We see July as a wash, with perhaps a slight edge for Madrid in one of the most important congressional battles in the nation.

Heather's hit ad on ethics may have scored a point or two, but did not deliver the long shot early knockout some R's hoped for. Madrid answered adequately with her own hit on Heather and was backed up by the national Dems who carpet-bombed the radio airwaves on her behalf. (Mark Barabak took a closer look in Sunday's Los Angeles Times.)

This race has more legs than 04' when Dem Richard Romero lacked the international and national turmoil as a backdrop. His 02' face-off with Heather was destined for the ash heap, coming as it did just a year after the 9/11 attacks.


So, is it different this time? With over 60% of voters saying the country is on the wrong track, gas prices staying too high for too long, an unpopular GOP President, and a dismal international scene, it should be. Clearly, this is the Dems best, and perhaps last shot, to end the Wilson era.

The issues do not break the incumbent's way, so the effort to make Madrid the issue will continue, but as a tested and popular two term elected attorney general, a native New Mexican, Heather's first female opponent and a Democratic base more engaged than the R's, Madrid appears poised to go the distance if she can move the debate off of ethics and avoids any verbal gaffes.

As for Heather, she has a mistake free campaign resume, a record of starting close to her foes, but closing strong on Election Night, a disciplined intellect, and a burning ambition that keeps her working hard. An early stumble would be a shocker.

The Wilson mantra this cycle is her "independence, integrity and honesty." Will character trump political chaos? July did not produce an answer. Now it's on to the guns of August.


No sooner had we blogged that Kim Holland was the new co-anchor of the KASA FOX 2 News at 9 p.m. than the announcement came that KRQE-TV'S parent company, Lin TV, purchased the station for $55 million. That means Kim and co-anchor Jeremy Jojola will no longer be the 9 p.m. news team. That word from KRQE which will take over the newscast which has been produced by KOB-TV, the employer of Jojola and Holland. No word yet on who the new anchors will be when Channel 13 takes over KASA at the end of August. Get your resume in.

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