Monday, April 26, 2010

Hard-Right Turn In Arizona; Political Impact Here? Plus: Exclusive Report On Candidate TV Buys, And: City Salary Cuts; What About At The Top? 

A little serendipity never hurt anyone and GOP Guv hopeful Susana Martinez is the beneficiary of some as the hot-button issue of immigration claims the headlines with the Arizona Governor signing a tough-as-nails immigration measure. It just so happens that Martinez is on the air here with a hard-right, illegal immigration ad as this drama plays out. Will it make a difference among conservative GOP voters as she chases Allen Weh for the nomination? And what about after the June 1 primary? Will Arizona then be an albatross around the necks of New Mexico R's?

The tough new law makes it a state crime for undocumented immigrants to be in Arizona. It is the only state with such a law. Opponents claim some provisions of the far-reaching legislation will lead to racial profiling, but Arizona Republicans have been steadfast in their support.

Martinez's high profile on immigration and the renewed interest in the subject could benefit her more in the south where immigration concerns are more intense than the ABQ metro. But RJ Berry did use the "Sanctuary City" argument to his benefit in a multiple candidate race for ABQ mayor. Martinez might pick up some stray votes in ABQ where so far her campaign has failed to find much footing.

But the overall dynamic of the GOP race seems to remain unchanged. Weh has a ton of money, is on the air heavy with well-received TV ads and no one is attacking him yet. Martinez may have received a break on the immigration issue among GOP voters who want the Arizona approach, but Weh still owns the economic message so central to GOP politics.

Roman Maes
Dems see the tough Arizona immigration measure as a sure fire winner for their team in November, no matter who the GOP nominee is. They may be right. From Santa Fe former state senator turned lobbyist Roman Maes writes:

What is the position of New Mexico's gubernatorial candidates on immigration? In light of the Arizona SB 1070, we need direction on this issue. Will it be the future wishes of government that I carry a passport, my birth certificate and my license?

Northern Hispanics, tracing their roots back to the Spanish conquest, do not have a kinship with today's Mexican immigrants. They fret more than anyone about the jobs they take from the locals. Now many feel their historic heritage and place is threatened by laws that they feel would have law enforcement not only single out illegals, but Hispanics whose families who have been here for centuries.


You know an issue is breaking the Dems way when soon-to-be Guv nominee Diane Denish hops on the bandwagon. She has been running a very conservative campaign, venturing in no waters that rise above the ankle. But on this one she waded deep:

We all know our immigration laws are broken and that we must do more to secure our borders, but racial profiling is wrong...and the new Arizona law goes too far. Here in New Mexico, we value our diversity. It’s ingrained in our culture...While I do believe we must secure our borders and pass a comprehensive national immigration reform bill, we cannot give government a free pass to racially profile and infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens. We’re better than that here in New Mexico.

One of Denish's chief political problems is breaking through in the Spanish North. Having the Arizona law as a wedge issue in the forthcoming campaign would give the Hobbs native the opportunity to showcase her civil rights credentials. We suspect no matter how this plays out, the Denish team will find it hard to resist working this theme into the fall campaign.


And what about Republican congressional hopeful Jon Barela, hoping to make a race of it with ABQ Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich? Is he with Arizona on this? If Barela were to come out for it--as the national R's would probably like--Heinrich will be ready with a baseball bat to smack that slow pitch over the fence.


Our Alligators come now with the exclusive info for you on the all-important campaign TV buys. In the GOP Guv contest, from April 21--27 Allen Weh bought $54,000 in broadcast TV and $2,140 on ABQ cable. His total spending since he went on TV in mid-March is $172,000 in broadcast and $14,000 in cable buys. Total spent: $187,000.

Martinez from April 20-26 spent $40K. That's the same buy she’s been at for three weeks. She also bought a thousand dollars of El Paso cable so she’s on at a very light level there. We had mentioned earlier that her illegal immigration spot was not airing in the south. Our point being it was not on the broadcast networks there. In total, Martinez has spent $128,371 on TV.

So far Weh has spent about 47 percent more on TV than Martinez.

Pete Domenici Jr. begins airing TV ads today. However, so far he has purchased only cable TV. Our insiders say the buy is for $70,000, spread from now until Election Day. With low cash on hand, that may be his only major TV purchase before the June 1 primary.

Not buying broadcast TV--the major network affiliates like KOB and KRQE--is a gamble for Domenici. The over-the-air stations, with their large audiences, move the polling numbers, with cable augmenting that power.

Doug Turner has cut four TV spots--more than Martinez and Weh--but he is spending little--less than $9,000 this month on ABQ broadcast TV. The campaign is pushing the spots on the Internet.


The city of ABQ is facing a $66 million deficit for the budget year that starts July 1st, prompting the Mayor to propose that city salaries be cut 3 percent. So why is Rob Perry, the just hired city attorney, being paid $135,000, a full $25,000 more than his predecessor Bob White? And why is Robin Dozier Otten, director of Family and Community Services Dept., being paid more than the $97,000 starting salary given most directors? Perry, White and Dozier Otten all served together in the cabinet of GOP Governor Gary Johnson in the 1990's.

Is Mayor Berry's knife too dull when it comes to cutting at the top? Just asking.

And what about the overtime abuse continuing at the ABQ police department. Nearly $10 million a year in overtime? Even after several years of outrage over this? And aren't the same cops still we have seen on the overtime hit list? Is the administration ready to tackle that one? The city council?

And on that same topic, this budget deficit keeps exploding. At first we were told it would be $15 or $20 million. We are now up to $66 million and insiders are saying don't rule out a jump to $80 million. This in a $475 million budget.


The public employee unions haven't gotten must traction in their fight against Berry's plan for a 3 percent salary cut and to increase the amount employees pay for health benefits. But they do have a point when talking about furloughs being preferable to salary cuts. The retirement check of a city worker is based on the highest salary he pulls down. If salaries are cut and not restored, it will impact those retirement checks. But if the money is saved by furloughs, retirement pay levels won't go down.

A good compromise would have the city council cook up a combination plate. Salary cuts of perhaps 1 percent or so and several furlough days as well. That may not be as appetizing as a real combination Mexican plate, but it would be easier to swallow for city employees about to retire.

And let's get real on the end game here. There are five Republicans on the council and four Democrats. City employee unions are barking at the moon if they think they are going to escape any financial hit during this crisis. Best to protect your benefits package, fellas, rather than burn your political capital on fighting any reduction in take home pay in the next year--either through salary cuts or furloughs.


What's different about this downturn is the cause. Wall Street and the banks essentially brought down the country. They still go unpunished. Has anyone gone to jail as millions pay the price with their jobs? It is similar to the 1930's when another unregulated Wall Street escapade cascaded into a Depresssion. But they did something about it back then.

The cycle of boom and bust is as American as apple pie, but in the past it has been accompanied by a clamp down on hyper-capitalism. We rope that bull and bring it back to the pen and start again. This time the bull still seems to be romping while befuddled middle class workers are left to fend for themselves.

Yes, the ownership of the two major political parties by the corporate money givers has a lot to do with why we have been so slow in correcting the excesses at the top of the pyramid. ABQ AFSCME leader Andrew Padilla calls his union's efforts to preserve their jobs without pay cuts "a war.". But instead of blaming the citizens, as Padilla did recently, for not spending enough money and thus not generating enough taxes to pay for public services, he should pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and learn about the real culprits in this economic mess.


Staying on the econ beat this Monday, a member of the NM Air National Guard's fighter wing best known as "The Tacos" writes in expressing concern that the new mission given to the wing may not be enough. At stake is 1,100 jobs and a $15 million annual payroll. The Tacos lost their fighting mission last year, but Rep. Martin Heinrich spearheaded the effort to get a new non-flying mission for the Tacos. But will that mission stick? To our Taco:

April 15th marked a very significant event for Kirtland AFB...Reality showed up at the New Mexico Air National Guard. The first wave of F-16's left Kirtland AFB forever. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the rest of the fleet will be gone by the end of this fiscal year, September 30th. There is no new mission. No new aircraft are on the way. The Taco's are going to now 'merge' with other units on Kirtland. Let the competition for jobs begin.

Someone is going to lose out in this deal. The other units on
Kirtland are already operational and fully staffed. Now here are a bunch of Guardsman walking in and hoping for a place to continue their decades of service. It just isn't going to work. Once the Air Force has the F-16's where it wants them, there is no longer ANY leverage to keep the surplus positions. The hollow promises will fall through.

Bottom line: good paying, reliable jobs are literally flying out of the state and come fall there will be the truth of how this affects our community. I welcome the comments from our elected leaders on this new reality.

The new mission for the Tacos has them becoming part of a special operating wing that specializes in search and rescue. Some observers, however, are saying that in the long-term a border security mission may be the best bet to preserve the jobs.

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