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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feds Propping Up ABQ, Plus: The Polling Game, The Speaker Watch, Newspapers Gear Up For Session, And More On Gonzales-Bregman Dem Chair Race 

You know how key the Feds are to keeping the ABQ economy humming. Well, here are some new numbers that illustrate it well:

Sandia National Laboratories bought more than $500 million in goods and services from New Mexico companies in fiscal year 2010. That’s up 40 percent from the previous year, according to the lab’s new report on its economic impact in New Mexico in 2010...

The $500 million that went to local companies accounts for about 50 percent of the $1 billion-plus that Sandia spent in FY 2010 on the procurement of goods and services, said Sandia President Paul Hommert...

That's good news. But how about we now go for 60 percent from local companies next year?

Sandia says it has about 8,200 employees in ABQ (Oh, we forgot. Government doesn't create any jobs)

THE POLLING GAME

Veteran ABQ Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff says, in 2010, for only the fourth time in 25 years of polling did his final survey have the loser on top in a major race. He made that point in issuing his post-election analysis. Sanderoff had Republican Jon Barela ahead of Democrat Martin Heinrich 49% to 46% in his final poll in that volatile contest for the ABQ congressional seat. Heinrich beat Barela 51.8% to 48.2.

Despite the setback Sanderoff and the Journal still have an enviable record when it comes to having the winner atop their final poll. Their win-loss record for the quarter century is 70 to 4 or about 95%.

SPEAKER WATCH

Dem State Rep. Andy Nunez is either going to look like Nostradamus or a guy with a lot of egg on his face. The 75 year old, who has taken an intense personal dislike to Speaker Ben Lujan, predicts fellow Dona Ana Dem State Rep. Joe Cervantes will oust Ben Lujan when the House speaker vote is taken next Tuesday. He says as many as eight Dems will join with 29 Republicans to make Joe a coalition speaker.

Predictions in these affairs are treacherous. When Dem State Rep. Kenny Martinez challenged Lujan four years ago his supporters also forecast a win, only to see the speaker retain the gavel. But there's no doubt that Lujan is much weaker today after barely escaping a 2010 primary defeat. His fate is in the hands of the Republicans, and he is talking with them.

MANNING UP

Much of the drama of the upcoming 60 day legislative session was drained from the room when Governor Martinez signaled she and most of the legislative leadership are basically on the same page when it comes to the state budget. But the differences that do exist will surely be put under the media microscope.

The ABQ Journal announces it will have four reporters covering the session. The Santa Fe New Mexican will have at least three scribes monitoring the action and the AP has a full-time correspondent. Also on hand will be a new reporter for New Mexico's southern newspapers. Toss in TV news coverage and you have more reporters than there may be big news. Considering the decline of the newspaper industry that is pretty good news around here.

One story that usually gets plenty of attention is the divvying up of capital outlay money, also known as pork. But GOP State Senator Vernon Asbill points out there won't be anything to fight about. Like last year there is very little capital outlay money available.

GONZALES VS. BREGMAN
Javier Gonzales
The debate over who should be the chairman of the NM Democratic Party is underway with email continuing to come in from both sides. Here's Matt Runnels in Silver City opining on the contest between incumbent chair Javier Gonzales and challenger and ABQ attorney Sam Bregman:

Having witnessed this party implode many times since the late 50's this chairman(Gonzales) might beat all. He sat on the sidelines during the past election and then sticks his head out and does a listening tour after the fact. Too little too late. He and (ABQ Dem State) Senator Ortiz y Pino criticize Jose Garcia's appointment as higher education secretary and he then is quoted in an article in the Journal(1/6) about "not throwing stones."

I have read an email he had staff circulate asking people to criticize Sam Bregman. I hope we elect Bregman as chair and calmer times prevail. He wants the job and it is difficult to find someone these days that has the time, money and energy to do it well.

The Dem central committee will meet in April to select a chairman for a two year term. A lesser known contender is Santa Fe's Letitia Montoya.

GOING NATIVE

We were thinking of New Mexico Pueblo Indians or a Navajo when we blogged Wednesday that one more ethnic barrier remained in state politics--the election of a Native American to a statewide office, But we didn't say so explicitly and reader Inez Russell comes with news that surprised us:

Don't forget Hal Stratton, although he wasn't a New Mexico native (or Native). He was attorney general in the late 1980's.
From Wikipedia:

"Hal Stratton was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on December 6, 1950 and is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation ..."

Gov. Martinez's appointments so far do not seem to have any Natives at all, though. And, if the Cabinet position for Indian Affairs is downgraded, it will really be a reversal of standing for Indians in state government...


Stratton, a Republican, served as attorney general from 1987-'91. He is now in private law practice in ABQ. Inez appears correct about no Native Americans yet being appointed to the Martinez cabinet. If we learn differently, we'll let you know.

HIGHER ED

Thanks to one of our media Alligators for pointing out that it is UNM that takes a slightly higher hit in the Guv's budget than her hometown NMSU. Her proposal cuts state funding for UNM by 3.8% and NMSU by 5.2%. We had it reversed. Martinez is also calling for a whopping 17.7% cut in CNM community college funding. That's drawing fire and legislators are sure to work to pare it back

And is this item from the Guv a slight hat tip in the direction of conservatives who might want Susana to reveal a sharper knife than she did when announcing her budget this week?

Governor Martinez announced is inviting all New Mexicans to submit their ideas to cut waste and reduce the size of government by sending an e-mail directly to the Governor’s office. Anyone interested in submitting a proposal can do so by writing to: CutWasteTips@state.nm.us

THE BEAR MARKET

The bear market in residential real estate in Las Cruces appears to be one of the longest ever, completing its fourth year:

Home sales are down in Las Cruces for the fourth year in a row. The Las Cruces Association of Realtors says 1,042 homes sold in Las Cruces as of the end of November, with the homes having a median value of $163,429. For the first 11 months of last year, 1,281 homes sold with a median value of $164,190.

It marked the fourth straight year that Las Cruces has seen a decline in home sales. The association says that in 2006, some 2,082 homes sold, nearly double the 2010 mark. The median price was $184,050.

Cruces had been attractive to "snowbirds," retirees coming from cooler climes, but the economic crash has slowed mobility and Dona Ana County and the City of Crosses is feeling it.

FILM DEBATE

It was a well-attended debate this week in ABQ over the future of the 25% tax rebate program to attract film makers to the state. You can see the entire debate here.

The Guv is proposing that the rebate for money spent here while making movies be reduced from 25% to 15%. Not all Republicans are in favor of Martinez's proposal. ABQ GOP State Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort was among those at the debate opposing the reduction.

The good news for the film industry? Governor Martinez has shown flexibility by rejecting an outright elimination of the rebate as GOP Roswell State Rep. Dennis Kintigh and the conservative Rio Grande Foundation wanted. The bad news? Her proposal represents a 40% reduction in the rebate.

A question for the new governor is why the film rebate is the only tax credit or exemption she apparently is asking to be reduced or cut. It may appear that she is singling out the film industry.

Still, Martinez's middle ground position on the film issue reveals the politician in her. If she wants to get things done over the next four years, we'll be seeing more of that side of her.

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