Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spaceport Relaunched: Administration Now Talks It Up, Plus: Is Gary Johnson Hallucinating? Also: Will Darren Get Dumped? And: A Letter From Big Bill 

It was a long time coming, but the Martinez administration finally seems to be fully embracing the promise of the largest economic development project on the state's drawing board--the NM Spaceport. The big hug doesn't come from Susana personally, but from Christine Anderson, the new executive director of the Spaceport Authority.

Gone is the Guv's critical attitude and emphasis on how the project needs more private investment to be completed. Instead Anderson is offering up a full-throated endorsement of the primary mission---getting tourists into space at $200,000 a pop courtesy of Virgin Galactic and building a commercial space industry here. Here are some of the money quotes from her recent interview:

"I mean, we are at the forefront of commercial space launches. How exciting is that? This is a whole new industry, for the world, and certainly for our country, and here we have it right here in New Mexico. So it's really an exciting time."

"I'd love the spaceport to be a world premier commercial space launch facility providing first-class service to our customers and delighting visitors that come..."

As Jon Lovitz would say, "That's the ticket!"

With high unemployment and gas prices near $3.50 a gallon, we need to be encouraging money to come in here--not shoo it away (State Economic Development Director Jon Barela also touted the Spaceport at an ABQ economic meeting last week).

Anderson, 63, brings 30 years of civilian Air Force experience to her new job, including hands-on work with the military space program.

As for talk of getting other tenants at the Spacport in addition to Virgin Galactic which has already taken hundreds of reservations for sub-orbital space travel, Anderson says that is now on the back burner:

"I'm really focusing right now on getting the construction right and going into operations....If we don't get that right, nothing else matters. At the same time, I don't want to miss an opportunity for some new tenant out there, some new customer, that may be on the fence or looking around for a spaceport to call home. So I'll be looking at that, too."

Nothing wrong with that. But Job One is to get the launch facility built and get that first tourist in space. Do that right and all kinds of opportunity will open up.

Martinez has said she wants to see more private sector involvement in seeing the Spaceport built out. That raised concerns that if it came up a few million short she would not support the state kicking in some more. Anderson was not quoted on that matter, but her other comments are reason for optimism that the administration is now committed to getting the candle lit down there and putting a rocket in space.

There was corridor talk during the recent legislative session that Martinez might have thought there was some hanky-panky going in with the financial arrangements the state has signed with Virgin Galactic. Seeing none, they are now less hesitant to adopt the very necessary role of cheerleader.

We've seen that its not easy for Martinez and company to give their blessing to anyone or anything associated with the prior administration of Big Bill. But you shape history by dwelling in the present, not the past.


It's all about that fancy word--synergies--and the Spaceport has got 'em. Starting next month it will be spinning off some biz to its southern NM neighbors. From the foreign travel press:

New Mexico will take centre stage as tourism reaches a whole new frontier in years to come – the final frontier, in fact.The US state has been chosen as the launch pad for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture and from May 2011, new tours will be available for visitors to take a look around the world’s first commercial spaceport.The Spaceport America Preview Tour leads visitors through the history and evolution of transportation and trade in the American continent, from the Spanish and Native American pioneers of the past to the rail, air and space pioneers of the future. Touring around the region and ending up at Spaceport America, the tour gives guests a taste of New Mexico’s scenic beauty and rugged ranges.

That ought to make the Guv happy and maybe even get her on one of those tours.


The Spaceport could be a major economic boost for all of the state but especially so for hard-hit rural areas. The latest census numbers confirm the depopulation trend in the state's small towns and cities. About the only thing that will keep them there is creating jobs for them.


Former NM Governor Gary Johnson is expected to announce in April that he will seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Gary will get about as far as former Guv Big Bill did when he ran for the White House. Gary is a longtime advocate of drug legalization so having political hallucinations is understandable. One hallucination, however, is particularly worrisome. Johnson is targeting Medicare and Social Security for cutbacks. That will get you in the doghouse, Gary, not the White House.


Governor Martinez's decision to name former Bernalillo County sheriff and current ABQ public safety director Darren White to the NM Judicial Standards Commission continues to get blasted. The editorial pages of the Santa Fe New Mexican and the ABQ Journal have asked her to nix the appointment and NM Dem Party Chair Javier Gonzales is also asking her to reconsider:

I do not oppose White because I think he's conservative. I oppose him because too many serious questions have been raised about his dealings while holding public office or while in publicly appointed positions.

Will Susana change her mind? It's her first test of this sort since becoming Governor--reaching too far in awarding political patronage to a campaign supporter. But her right-wing likes the red meat throwing White specializes in. Maybe Susana is looking more closely at her chances for the 2012 GOP Veep nomination than is assumed. Having White creating havoc with "liberal" judges plays into a national narrative as does her obsession with driver's licenses for illegals.

With that thought in mind, how about that out of state trip Susana took recently. From the Denver Post:

Colorado Republicans trekked from all across the state to Littleton on Friday night for the party's fourth-annual Centennial Dinner. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez delivered the keynote address, urging Colorado's GOP to remain true to values such as smaller government and lower taxes as it moves into the 2012 election season.

"Colorado Republicans must be able to communicate with registered voters and find ways to get them to consider voting for Republican candidates," Martinez told The Denver Post prior to her speech. "The way to do that is talk about the issues and not necessarily party affiliation. Then we'll get people to consider crossing party lines and voting for the best candidate."

She also spoke about how Republicans can attract more Hispanic votes--a national GOP theme if there ever was one. How much out-of-state travel does it take to get on the GOP national presidential ticket? Are New Mexicans about to find out or are we being congentially conspiratorial?


There's a new investigative website that broke some news from ABQ City Hall this week. Veritasnm.com reports:

Just three years after City of Albuquerque bus and van drivers voted to change their union affiliation, the Transit Department employees have signaled their interest in once again changing who represents them. But city officials appear to be setting up roadblocks for the drivers.

On Wednesday, after Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s staff failed to post election notices at transit facilities within 24 hours of receiving a request to be represented by a new union– as required by the city Labor Management Relation Ordinance — a lawyer for the New Mexico Transportation Union (NMTU) filed a Prohibited Labor Practices complaint with the city’s labor board.

By thr way, in Roman mythology Veritas was the goddess of truth. Or maybe it's the goddess of wrath for Mayor Berry.


Former Governor Bill Richardson writes:

Dear Joe, I am writing you this message from the Kennedy School at Harvard where I will be lecturing and teaching courses for a week as Institute of Politics Fellow. Included in this brief stint will be an immigration lecture at Yale University and a speech at the University of Texas School of Law.

Since we left office, Barbara and I have settled into our home in Santa Fe where we are enjoying a more subdued existence yet still maintaining hectic travel schedules. We have opened an office in downtown Santa Fe staffed by my very able Executive Assistant and former personal aide, Caitlin Kelleher.

Besides giving a number of speeches around the country and internationally for the Washington Speakers Bureau, I recently signed on with a very dynamic organization known as APCO Worldwide as Chair of their Global Political Strategies Division. Additionally I have joined a number of non-profit and for profit boards. Soon I will become a member of two prominent environmental boards.

As you can see, I’ve been quite busy since entering life as a private citizen. I have been speaking out in the public domain on issues such as energy, the economy and recent developments in the Middle East. In the months ahead, I hope to announce the formation of a foreign policy center that will focus on hostage rescues, conflict resolution and Latin America.

I have valued our relationship over the years and hope you stay in touch with me as well as giving me any thoughts you might have on the issues of the day.

Please take a moment to checkout my new website my new website.

And again, thank you for your continued support.

Good to hear from you, Bill. You should see what Susana's done with the mansion!

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