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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Brooks Stands Firm Against Guv In Latest Round Of PIO Battle, Plus: Film Buffs Borrow Page From Susana Playbook, And: Raises For City Politicos? Now? 

Winston Brooks
It appears Governor Martinez is going to have to keep her high heels on the windpipe of ABQ Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks. The super continues to insist that the over $400,000 he is spending annually on PR is a wise expense and he won't cut it.

Susana wasn't asking for much when she targeted the PIO's gone wild in APS in her January State of the State speech, but Brooks won't budge. He spins that the PR expense is comparable to other school districts. Never mind that other school districts may be over spending on PR. He also points to the PR budget for Las Cruces, saying that for its size that district spends a comparable amount on PR as APS. To which the Governor promptly retorted that they are also spending too much.

Brooks is paying his top PR flack over $106,000 a year when the local market price for that job is around $75,000. That could be a $30,000 savings which happens to be about the starting pay for a school teacher. Brooks' math doesn't add up and the Governor's does. And that's why she will be keeping her high heels sharpened.

FILM FLIP-FLOP

Governor Martinez and her political team are getting a taste of their own medicine. You'll recall how they launched robocalls and radio ads against legislators reluctant to support the repeal of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Now the film folk are out with a YouTube video attacking Martinez for not ordering an independent review of state film incentives as she said she would during last year's campaign.

The 40 second video shows Susana in a number of venues talking in support of the industry, but she has since supported reducing the film tax rebate from 25% of a film's cost to 15% without a study. The video concludes by asking viewers to call Susana and tell her "to keep her word" and support an independent economic review of the incentives. Various measures to study the incentives are now winding through the Legislature.

Republican Bob Cornelius blasted the ad, saying it was not well-produced and makes the Dems sound like they actually want the film incentives cut. He sounds like a potential film critic, doesn't he?

CARGO'S DOUBTS

Former NM Governor Dave Cargo ('66-'70), was one of the early pioneers when it came to bringing movies to New Mexico. The Republican now tells KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson he has grave doubts about how Susana has handled the film incentives:

You’ve got to have a good relationship with the movie industry, and I’m afraid they’re destroying it. They’ve got to sit down and figure out something that’s reasonable, something that is do-able, and do it the right way...

Susana says the right way is to cap the film tax rebate at $45 million a year. Anything higher could get her in a vetoing mood.

PAY RAISES NOW?

Pay raises for politicians? In this environment? That's right. Raising the future pay of the ABQ Mayor and nine city councilors will be the talk of the town tomorrow night:

The Citizens' Independent Salary Commission was approved by Albuquerque voters as an amendment to the City Charter. The Commission was created with the authority to set the salaries of the Mayor and City Councilors. The Commission has the authority to evaluate the annual salaries and determine whether they should be increased or decreased.

The Commission intends to issue a report in March 2011 with any recommended compensation adjustments to be implemented with the next elected Albuquerque City Council.

The Commission will hold a forum to hear comments from the public and media. March 3, 2011, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Loma Linda Community Center 1700 Yale Blvd. SE 87106

Mayor Berry is making about $105,000 after a self-imposed 5 percent salary cut to help balance the budget. The nine city councilors make 10 percent of that or about $10,500 a year, with the council president making double that. The councilors also get personal assistants who make well over $50,000 a year.

Why raise their pay? There's no shortage of candidates running and the councilor jobs were envisioned as brief civic service. And with their well-compensated aides, it can hardly be argued that they are overworked. But we doubt if the commission will see it that way. In the middle of a recession they will probably vote to give everyone a nice raise. Just like the one you are getting.

Not.

THEY'RE BULLET PROOF


And in case any disgruntled taxpayers start taking aim at the councilors, don't worry. They now have a bullet proof dais to hide under--at a cost of $40,000.

SPACEPORT BOOSTER

Reader Rodger Beimer writes:


You’re right on regarding the fate of the Spaceport. Just because it happened during Bill Richardson’s term doesn’t make it bad. I just went to the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery--along with tens of thousands of others. There was a couple from Germany on my bus that had come to Florida just to see the launch. Since the USA doesn’t have any manned space shots beyond the Shuttle program which ends after one or two more launches, the demand to see people shot into space will exist! The Virgin Galactic vehicle and its propulsion system may not be as dramatic as a Saturn V or the shuttle launch vehicle, but the curiosity and mystery of space flight will remain. Where are the curious sightseers gonna go? To Russia?

Bienvenido a Nuevo Mexico!

SCHMITT SWAN SONG


Former astronaut and US Senator Jack Schmitt is out with his final take on his ill-fated reentry into la politica. He penned an op-ed striking back at state Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Linda Lopez over the reasons for his withdrawal as Governor Martinez's secretary of energy and minerals.

The simple truth is that I agreed to background investigations by both the Rules Committee and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. I only said "no" to releasing Ms. López's hand-picked private eyes from liability for the misuse of personal and family information. I did not say "no" to the committee having full access to that information.

BIG BILL UPDATE

Remember that $1 million a year movie job Big Bill was said to be in the running for last year? Well, Bill didn't get it but another ex-politico did. Former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd takes the prize. Former Governor Bill announced his own PR type job last week--although it doesn't tip the pay scales like Dodd's, it will keep Bill on the DC scene.

Another topic of intense political banter in 2010 was whether there would be any federal indictments in connection with the state investment scandals. Former State Investment Officer Gary Bland and Marc Correa, who marketed investments to the state, were constantly mentioned as possible targets. Still nothing from downtown, but legal beagles continue to have their ears perked up each Friday--the day when federal indictments are often announced.

THE BOTTOM LINES

In a little riff on the Tuesday blog we listed what we believe to be the current and future cornerstones of the New Mexico economy---the Spaceport, the Labs, tourism etc.---but a reader points out we did not mention two biggies--the oil and gas industry and agriculture. Indeed. They are vital.

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