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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Democrats Gone Wild: ABQ Councilors Worry About Nukes, Not Jobs, Plus: Di's Health Plan: What Did She Forget? And: The Taos Tax Rebellion 

Where is the leadership in the New Mexico Democratic Party or at least a unifying principle over the direction of the economy in the state's largest city? These questions arise in the wake of the four ABQ Democratic city councilors supporting a bizarre resolution that calls for dismantling nuclear weapons stored at Kirtland Air Force Base and shipping them to Texas.

The non-binding resolution was shot down by the five Republicans on the council, but the vote was not innocuous. It came as military and business insiders were taking in fresh speculation in DC about a possible closure of Kirtland. A decision on the future of the base is expected in a couple of years. We avoided a shut down of KAFB in the mid-90s with a bipartisan effort and continue to enjoy the billions in economic impact the facility brings.

Which leads us back to our questions. Where was Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman who will seek reelection in 2012 on a platform of safeguarding Federal dollars for the state? And where was Democratic Congressman Martin Heinrich, seeking re-election this year and citing his service on the House Armed Services Committee as a boon for the metro area. Heinrich was once a leading liberal light on the city council. Could he not have spoken with some of his former colleagues before the ill-advised resolution saw the light of day? And what about business-friendly NM Dem Chairman Javier Gonzales?

This place would be a ghost town without the base upon which the modern day city and its economy were built. It's true there would be a lot fewer Republican voters if KAFB went away, but we won't throw that brickbat at our wayward councilors.

The most surprising vote in favor of the resolution came from council president and fiscal conservative Dem Ken Sanchez. He has been a longtime advocate of economic development who is thinking about a run for mayor in a couple of years. Guess he figured the far-left could derail his bid, but he should be more concerned about how he is going to get elected citywide after such a vote

And before the  R's slap themselves on the back, could not Republican Mayor RJ Berry and his administration have done more to stave off a vote that puts this resolution in the record, perhaps to be taken advantage of by base closure advocates?

The councilors voting for the resolution would seek to claim the moral high ground by advocating an anti-nukes position, but what of the thousands of "working families" the Dems repeatedly cite as their chief concern when electioneering? What about the morality of protecting their jobs and livelihoods?

This being the political season we could see how the R's could score the Dems over this, but we hope they don't. What the city needs now is leadership and a bipartisan effort to lay the groundwork for keeping Kirtland open and keeping those working families working.

A RAW NERVE

That anti-Kirtland council resolution hit an especially raw nerve because:

Albuquerque has experienced three straight years of private-sector job loss, losing a total of 27,800 jobs since 2007. The peak was in August of 2007 when the Duke City had 318,200 private-sector jobs. As of August of 2010 that figure is 290,400.

Thirty-five of the nation’s 100 biggest metropolitan areas are on the rebound, according to a report issued Wednesday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Albuquerque is in the other group of 65 that are considered sinking...

The Feds say metro area unemployment is now at 9.3 percent. All we need now is to start losing Federal jobs. Not.

DID SHE FORGET SOMETHING?

Health-care jobs have been one of the few employment pluses in an otherwise dreary  jobless climate in our state. Dem Guv hopeful Diane Denish came  with a plan  Wednesday to attract more high school students to the booming field. But did she forget something? What about a dental school at the University of  New Mexico? Big Bill and Senator Jeff have both supported the concept but nothing much has happened. A dental school is going to cost money but so did the UNM medical and law schools, and they have been great successes for our state.

New Mexico's youth need job opportunities more than ever. Why shouldn't a kid from Chama or Hatch have a shot at becoming a dentist right here and staying here? The business they would start would certainly contribute to our economy (Heck, it might even lower the cost of filling that cavity if we have more dentists). But first we have to invest and follow the model that the  state's political leadership of the 50's and 60's gave us.

PREZ VISIT HURT?

We can see why they said it, but we differ with the analysis of GOP congressional hopefuls Jon Barela and Steve Pearce on the political impact of the President's Tuesday visit to ABQ.  

Jon Barela and Steve Pearce said Obama's visit would remind voters of Democratic policies that have been unable to significantly improve the economy. 

But Obama made it clear by where he visited that he was mining for Democratic votes, not Republicans or independents or even swing voters. Much of that vote is already gone. What isn't gone is the Democratic base. It is just threatening not to show up at the polls. Obama's approval rating among state Dems is a healthy 69% in the latest Journal poll. His job here was to get them off their couches and into the voting booths. They don't disagree with "Democratic policies" but they are dejected that those policies have not gone far enough or done more to end the recession.

This is going to be a low-turnout base election. It will be won on get-out-the-vote efforts as much as anything else. Obama aimed at the right target in ABQ this week. Whether he hit it is the question.

MORE PREZ VISIT

There wasn't much rain on President Obama's parade when he visited ABQ this week. The weather was late-fall beautiful and protesters were minimal. Still, former NM GOP executive director Greg Graves, now a consultant with the Republican Governors Association, has a bone to pick, so pick away, Greg:

Joe, what a great day for New Mexico...I am glad he got to see part of our city and experience the culinary fare. I am just wondering who paid for the trip. It was announced as a non-political trip but sure turned into one. Will the Denish and Heinrich campaigns be billed for a portion of the trip? If he had only stopped for lunch I assume it would be OK, but he walked around the café introducing the “next governor” and encouraged people to go vote for Denish.

When I was executive director of the NMGOP we had numerous trips into NM by President Bush. We or the campaigns had to pay for the trips in the state. I suppose this is not a really big deal, but it is an interesting questions and I wonder if Ms. Ethics in government Denish will step forward and do the right thing...

The Denish campaign says Greg can put his worries to rest. Everything was official:

The backyard conversation in the South Valley was part of an official visit by the President and the stop at Barelas Coffee House wasn't planned, nor was it an event organized by the campaign. We follow all the relevant regulations about payments for campaign expenses and will continue to make sure we follow all the of the rules...

See, no politics happened when the Prez was here. Whoever heard of politics in the South Valley of ABQ, anyway? Perish the thought!

BREAKING AWAY

Rep. Martin Heinrich deprived GOP challenger Barela of some ammo when he joined with 38 other Dems Wednesday and voted not to adjourn the House. They got out of town by one vote after Republicans pushed to stay in so the Bush tax cuts could be extended. Heinrich explained why he voted to stay:

Congress needs to provide permanent tax cuts for the middle-class while allowing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires to expire. We can't pay down the Bush administration's debt and fund critical programs like Medicare if we're writing checks for $700 billion to the richest Americans. Anybody who's ever balanced a family checkbook knows that.

We might ask Martin if he is so upset about those low tax rates for the rich why he didn't support the proposed tax on millionaires to help finance the Obama health-care plan. Oh, guess we just did.

RICH IN NEW MEXICO

If you don't think there are all that many wealthy taxpayers to tax, we have fresh info here that says while our state is at the bottom in a lot of rankings when it comes to the number of millionaires, we look pretty fit: 

New Mexico lands at No. 34 in a list ranking states based on the 2010 percentage of millionaire households. New Mexico has 34,145 millionaires, or 4.07 percent of the state's total households. New Mexico ranks below the national average, with 4.78 percent of all U.S. households considered millionaire status.

The list, compiled each year by Phoenix Marketing International, bases its rankings on households with at least $1 million in investable, liquid assets and does not count sponsored retirement accounts or real estate values.

By the way, embattled Dem Congressman Harry Teague voted for House adjournment and took the predictable hits for it from the national R's.

TAOS TAX REBELLION

We've been keeping our eye on the ever escalating gross receipts tax rates in New Mexico cities and towns and have been alarmed that some rates are now approaching 9 percent. In Taos, residents had enough when the Taos Council this summer passed an increase taking the tax from 8.1875 to 8.4375 percent. They circulated petitions calling for a public vote and that forced the town leaders to back off:

The Taos Town Council unanimously voted in favor of repealing a proposed gross-receipts tax increase...Mayor  Darren Córdova announced  he would be asking the council  to repeal an ordinance that would raise the GRT by a quarter-percent.. The council voted unanimously to impose  the GRT increase Aug. 10, but petitions calling for a municipal election  over the issue were soon circulating.

The personal income tax in New Mexico is not what the R's should call a "job-killing" tax. It is the on-the-rise gross receipts tax that especially hits middle and lower income voters that hurts job development. We've lowered the personal income rates on everyone including the rich. Those rates may need to go up while the job destroying gross receipts goes down. But good luck figuring out how, Governor whoever.

NOT COMPLACENT

Writing to you is not a privilege we take for granted:

TEHRAN, Iran--An Iranian court sentenced the founder of one of the first Farsi-language blogs, credited with sparking the boom in Iranian reform bloggers, to more than 19 years in prison for his writings, a news web site reported Tuesday.

Okay, if things get too hot around here, we're switching to Spanish. Let them figure that out.

MITT FOR MARTINEZ

VP Joe Biden is in ABQ today for a fund-raiser in the North Valley for Diane Denish and Susana Martinez is prepping for a big name visitor of her own. Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 GOP presidential hopeful will campaign for her next Monday. Want to go? Details: 

Governor Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts Monday, October 4,  2010. VIP  Reception: $2,500  per  couple; $1,500  per individual-Photo  Opportunity  included--General  Reception: $500  minimum per person. Please R.S.V.P to Ashley at 505-974-1396 or rsvp@susana2010.com.

Mitt is a quality candidate, but his Mormon background has been a hindrance here, say several GOP Alligators. His solid business credentials help. 

MVD SURPRISE

The long-derided NM Motor Vehicle Department has been recognized for having one of the nation's best Web sites? Okay, did something freeze over down in you-know-where?

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