Monday, December 06, 2010
Flying High With The Guv To Be; How And Who Pays? Plus: A Game Plan For Econ Secretary Barela, And: The Bottom Lines From Shanghai
Susana Martinez will trek to the Santa Fe Plaza New Year's day to be sworn in as the state's next Governor. The 10 a.m. open air ceremony will be heavy on symbolism as Martinez campaigned on a pledge of open and transparent government. Unless a snowstorm blows in, the oath-taking should take place under chilly, but clear blue skies. The official and traditional swearing-in will occur at an invitation only event at the Roundhouse Rotunda at midnight January 1.
But the Susana camp has chosen not to invoke any symbolism--at least not yet--when it comes to big money in state politics. They have yet to comment on whether they will voluntarily apply the new state spending contribution limit of $5,000 to donations being made to fund Martinez's inaugural ceremonies. Since it is only weeks away, we assume not. They say they will release the names and amount of the contributions they receive, but that isn't going to be read as the "bold change" she pledged.
Couldn't some of her leftover campaign funds have been donated to the inaugural and then she could have voluntarily abided by the new limits?
Well, politicians of any party aren't about to give up any chance to raise a bucket load of cash until the law absolutely says they have to. Susana Martinez doesn't seem to be of a mind to break the mold, even after a campaign centered on pay-to-play allegations in the current administration.
The Alligators came with a report here a while back that Martinez would not only have an inaugural party in Santa Fe, but also one in Las Cruces. We wondered how she would manage that in the same day. Well, it turns out the Las Cruces bash--a "send-off gala"--will take place Dec 30, not January 1. That means Susana won't have to worry about flying up and down the state on her big day.
COME FLY WITH ME
But the question of how this new Governor gets around is going to be front and center after a campaign in which she railed against use of the state jet and said she would sell it.
Martinez has now named a transition committee to assess the three state aircraft that includes the jet purchased under Big Bill. This comes after a TV news report that showed the two other state-owned aircraft used to ferry officials about to be in poor shape and questionable maintenance practices being used.
Will Martinez sell the jet and use some of the proceeds to fix up the two aging aircraft that are used for in-state flying? Not a bad guess.
But how is the Governor going to get to all those appearances around the country? She seems to relish them, and as the nation's first female Hispanic Governor the invitations will flow.
TV news asked her how she paid for a jet flight from Las Cruces to ABQ recently. The campaign said the plane was donated by Bode Aviation. There have been no news reports on how Martinez was flown to recent trips to San Diego or Washington D.C. or who paid.
How about something on that as well as a news story on whether donated jets will be taking off from Santa Fe to fly the Governor-elect around the USA? What are the latest rules on that for a sitting governor? When is the Governor a political candidate? When is plane travel counted as a campaign donation which the new law limits to $5,000 per person per campaign? Inquiring minds want to know.
A fishing trip that results in a fine from the game and fish department is not exactly front-page material, unless it involves a soon-to-be deputy chief of staff for Gov-elect Martinez. Brian Moore, welcome to the brightly lit stage of La Politica. We won't say you're going to like it. Just that you are now one of the actors on it.
BUILDING A CABINET
The Alligators called this one nearly the day after the election--Jon Barela would be tapped to be Secretary of Economic Development. And that's just what happened Friday with Governor-elect Martinez making the announcement.
Barela, who lost narrowly to Dem Martin Heinrich for the ABQ congressional seat, needed a job, now he needs to help create jobs for others--lots of others.
The state's jobless rate is still dismal. Take a look at this. In the ABQ area, our private sector employment for October was back where it was in October of 2000. In fact, it was below the ten year old levels. In other words, all of the private employment gains and then some made during the Great Bull Market in ABQ have been wiped out by the Great Recession.
Government employment as a percent of the New Mexico workforce has now jumped from 20 percent to 25 percent. And some of those jobs look shaky. City government's workforce shrunk by 3 per cent in the past year.
A GAME PLAN
We don't want to sound like a broken record, but since Secretary-designate Barela is about to be handed the ball, we repeat what we see are key tasks for him and the new Governor.
---Bolster our relationship with the federal government to protect our federal installations in this new era of budget cutting.
---Ensure that the Spaceport for southern New Mexico is competently run and that we think big in regards to future research and development there.
---Push the development of a dental school at UNM, similar to our medical and dental schools.
---Do not ash can the film industry. Review the incentives, but remember the vital role tourism plays in the state
---End raids on our permanent funds to invest in questionable businesses that fail to bring jobs here.
--Promote our agricultural industry and its exports around the globe
--Get involved at our many universities and colleges to encourage future entrepreneurs.
The immediate challenge for Barela is to strengthen and protect what we have as this economy continues to limp along.
Barela is personally invested in the film business through Cerelink. So he understands that industry. However, he will probably have to sort out conflict of interest questions that will inevitably be raised if he takes an active role in supporting state film incentives.
He also has federal experience as a legislative aide to the late Congressman Joe Skeen. He has seen up close the tremendous impact the feds have on this economy. He is also an attorney so he can wade through the mish-mash of regulations, some that need to be overhauled or discarded.
Economic development in New Mexico is going to take more than sloganeering over cutting taxes and regulations. It's going to take elbow grease and a lot of thinking outside the box. Barela may have the most challenging job in state government.
Speaking of the Guv-elect's cabinet picks, it appears GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner and noted license plate collector Michael Wiener is earning serious consideration for the position of Director of the Motor Vehicle Division. The former ABQ city councilor and state senator ought to be able keep up on all the latest license plates from that perch.
And what about his perch at the county commission? His vacancy would be filled by an appointment from the new Governor so it would stay in R hands. Now Wiener wouldn't be thinking of trying to have a go at both jobs, would he?
The state GOP did not release the percentage that former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman won with in Saturday's contest for state party chair. About 300 GOP central committee members chose Monty over attorney Nina Martinez. In the absence of any hard numbers, the rumor mill started churning out some. They had Monty taking the two year term with 58% to Nina's 42%. Given the divisions in the party over the years that doesn't sound far-fetched.
THE BOTTOM LINES
From Shanghai, a reader writes:
Greetings from China, Joe. Thought you would be amused to know that your blog appears to be so incendiary and controversial that it is even blocked in the Peoples Republic of China! Wear that as a badge of honor...
Incendiary and controversial? The Chinese must have us mixed up with someone else. Heck, we even favored spending big money to bring panda bears to the ABQ zoo. But if we offended them for any reason, we will forcefully apply the traditional punishment around here--ten lashes with a wet noodle--a Chinese noodle, of course.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2010 Not for reproduction without permission of the author