Friday, July 17, 2009
Time for some of end of the week clippings from my summer newsroom floor. And the newsroom floor was cluttered for a mid-summer week with a bunch of political news making headlines. But we have our broom and have swept up the clippings and here we go...
We are getting the first hints of the restructuring that needs to be done at the top levels of the New Mexican government pay scale as we deal with a more restrictive economic era. The president of the Central NM Community College, Kathy Winogard, has been given a one year contract extension, but her salary of $206,000 will not go up. What? A big government salary not increasing? Egads!
Governor Big Bill took a symbolic step this year and reduced by two percent the salaries of his political appointees. However, there has been no movement on the too-high salaries at the University of New Mexico--the UNM president and the chief operating office pull in well over $1 million a year between them--or the city of ABQ, where some top director salaries are now well over $110,000. But if in the future policy makers are going to be forced to lay off mid-level employees or force them to take unpaid holidays, how will they justify these bloated salaries?
The CNM board action may indicate that the populist argument is starting to resonate. Mayoral candidate Richard Romero has started to rattle the cage over the number of highly-paid city political appointees that were added to the payroll during the record economic run that finally crashed in 2008. Will he get any mileage out if for the October 6 election?
But then there's this. How are we to believe that Santa Fe is serious about cutting the fat when the so-called "hiring freeze" is violated for those with friends in high places? Does Bill really think no one is paying attention? And guess where they are packing the payroll---in questionably needed administrative posts at the Cultural Affairs Department. How can Mr & Mrs. New Mexico take seriously the moaning and gnashing of teeth over the "budget shortfall" when they are treated to such spectacle? And the Legislative oversight on this? What's that? A three martini lunch at the Bull Ring? Governor, don't even think about asking for a tax increase.
Besides both hailing from Hobbs and being Democrats, Light Guv Diane Denish and southern US Rep. Harry Teague have something else in common--both are conducting an "Operation Separation" as they prepare for 2010. Di is trying to get out from under the ethical shadow cast over Big Bill's administration by numerous state scandals and Harry is doing his best to look like a true conservative Democrat as Republican Steve Pearce chases him around the sprawling district.
Harry was at it again recently. He voted against the $49 billion 2010 foreign affairs budget. It passed the Dem controlled US House 318 to 106. The bill is often a target of vocal conservatives, like those in Chavez and Otero counties. It's a vote that may help Teague narrow his losses in the heavy R counties. And the narrower his losses there, the more the race will be decided in the district's Teague friendly county of Dona Ana and the western counties of the district that lean Dem.
NO TIME TO WASTE
Steve Pearce doesn't have any time to waste so here he comes with campaign kick-offs in Hobbs and Cruces.
"Bring Back Pearce Campaign Kick-off" Please join Steve Pearce as he formally announces his campaign for US Congress! July 21st Hobbs, NM at 8:00 am Republican Headquarters.
Las Cruces, Tuesday July 21st at 5:00 pm, Rawson Builders 2355 Nevada Ave
They get up early in Hobbs, don't they?
Putting pressure on Pearce is the latest finance report from Teague. It shows the incumbent has already stockpiled $574,000. He raised $300,00o in the recent quarter. Everyone knows the guy who spends the most in these US House races usually wins--not always--but usually. Pearce sent out his first fund-raising message this week.
THE NORTHERN FRONT
Congressman Ben Ray Lujan reports he has only about $160,000 cash on hand, but he looks secure. No Dem has announced a primary challenge and 27 year old Adam Kokesh is expected to run for the northern seat as a Republican. Dan East, the '08 GOP nominee, has also expressed interest in making another effort. The district is heavy Dem. Observers await word on whether independent Carol Miller will run again. Meanwhile, Kokesh says he has $50,000 in the bank, so while his challenge to Lujan is steep uphill, Norteños will be hearing more from this new voice and former Marine with a libertarian message. He will make his race official Monday in Santa Fe.
Republican Jon Barela, hoping to become the ABQ GOP congressional nominee and take on Dem Martin Heinrich reports he raised about $73,000 in the third quarter, but he was not a candidate for the entire three months. It's not a bad pace for the attorney, but with Martin already socking away $475,000, Jon is going to have to start sprinting. And still no word on funeral home director Kevin Daniels and whether he will contest Barela for the GOP nod. Daniel was recently in D.C. talking with the national R's.
THE BLOODY ECONOMY
From the Alibi:
Our controller sent out this oozing nugget: “Our regular customer for nearly a decade, ZLB Bioplasma, has to stop running ads with us until December because they have an overstock of plasma. This seems to be due to the economy. Everyone is donating plasma to get some cash in their pocket.
We don't think the politicians can count on any tax increases with that kind of news background, although they have been known to squeeze blood from a stone.
SANTA FE MONEY WATCH
It's not that we had a bunch of unqualified home buyers during the bull market in Santa Fe housing, we simply had people paying way too much. Even the usually rosy Realtors now admit prices still have to come down more. With state government employment flat or declining, tourism depressed and no job creation, the bears still have a firm grip on the capitol city's economy. The good news? The quicker we deal with reality and rid ourselves of the excesses that have distorted the New Mexican economy, the sooner the next bull market can start.
THE BOTTOM LINES
We blogged that Light Guv Denish did not take any contributions over $5,000 in the recent quarter, but reader Alan Schwartz points out that there were three contributions of $10,000.
"There were three contributions of $10,000, two of which came from entities with gambling interests (Pueblo of Sandia and Sun Ray Gaming)."
And the New Mexican's Steve Terrell tells us: 'Her biggest contributors were unions: $25,000 from The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters and $11,500 from the New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council.
And I thought Terrell could only read music.
Thanks for tuning in this week.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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