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Friday, April 29, 2011

The ABQ Flatline: It's Not A New Dance Just The Same Old Economy, Plus: Martin Moves Left And Maybe Hector Moves Right; Now That's A Dance 

  • Javier Gonzales withstood a stiff challenge from attorney Sam Bregman and narrowly won re-election as New Mexico Democratic Party chairman. Incumbent Gonzales beat Bregman by just 11 votes out of 381 cast. It was Gonzales 191, Bregman 180 and Letitia Montoya 9 votes.
Our big city is pretty much flat on its back. and while Mayor Berry talks about what we'll be like in 2035 it is the troubled here and now that cries out for attention. Not that it's easy coming up with ideas on how to get things percolating again, but talking about the grim reality might be a good start.
While 77 of the nation's top 100 metros added jobs between March of 2010 and this March, ABQ lagged, losing some 3,000. That put us at #93 for job growth. Maybe the Mayor can exclaim,"We're ahead of seven others!"

Well, maybe it's better to just let the cobwebs grow at the city's economic development department.

The city's unemployment rate supposedly fell from 9.0 to 8.5 per cent in the latest stats, but that might have been a fluke or the result of people giving up looking for jobs and/or a shrinking work force. Maybe the recovery is right around the Tijeras Canyon corner, but we can't see it yet. The state reports that tax collections have stabilized and we are even running a little surplus. That's the good news--and you know what's coming. That's right--the bad news--which is that every surplus nickel is being gobbled up by Medicaid--the program that provides medical care for needy New Mexicans.

And then there's the city real estate market--if you can call it much of a market. The median price of existing homes here has plunged from over $225,000 at the height of the Great Housing Bubble to a meager $166,000 in the latest reporting month. In other words, there are thousands of homeowners here who are under water and who are going to have to hold their breath an awfully long time to see values restored to the glory years--if they ever are.

But it's not all bad. Rio Rancho--ground zero for the housing excess--is flirting with median home prices below $160,000 and that is finally attracting the bargain hunters and families that can finally afford to tiptoe into the market, even as they battle over-the-top gas and food prices.

But back on the bad beat, add this to the list:

The Albuquerque area’s per capita personal income fell 0.8 percent in 2009, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Per capita income fell to $35,329 from $35,608 in 2008. In 2009, the Albuquerque area ranked 181st in per capita income out of 366 metro areas.


We're not fortune tellers--except when we head out of town with the state fair carnies for a wild weekend--but we see $150,000 staring us in the face when it comes to future median home prices in the Duke City. With a whole lot of folks out of work and nothing much happening to bring any jobs here, that just seems about where things may finally settle.

AN ENVY CUT?

Then there are the economic geniuses in Santa Fe. The one major project they have on the boards that might produce a bunch of good paying jobs gets treated like an unwanted step-child:

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s budget has been slashed by more than half for the next fiscal year and that has at least one board member concerned. Spaceport officials heard about the 57 percent reduction for the first time during a meeting Wednesday. Spaceport director Christine Anderson says the agency had received $1.7 million in the current fiscal year. It’s slated to get about $500,000 next fiscal year. Board member Ben Woods says having less money will be hard to deal with. He says the cut is likely part of those made to agencies across the board to deal with a state budget deficit. Board members have to develop a final spending plan for the spaceport before the end of June.

How many agencies are getting that kind of haircut? Is this part of the "if Bill Richardson had anything to do with it we can't stand it" movement?

Come on Governor Martinez and certain legislators, get a picture of Big Bill, throw some darts at it and get it out of your system. Don't you want to build something for the future?

(P.S. Maybe in the future the southern New Mexico press and legislators there who support the Spaceport will listen a little more carefully when the Alligators warn them.)

(P.S.S. Christine Anderson, you may have to fight like a wet cat to bring this project to fruition. Remember, that it's worth the fight.)

BLOCKING HECTOR

Wasn't it only a day or two ago that we said if we were wearing Hector Balderas' wingtips, we might want to get ahead of Martin Heinrich on the war in Afghanistan--the longest in American history--and go the anti-war route? That's an increasingly popular stance among the American people. Well, too late Hector--if that's what you had in mind. Heinrich, obviously reacting in part to Hector's freshly announced challenge of him for the 2012 Dem US Senate nomination, came with his new view on the war--he now says it's time to wind it down:

“We have spent over $450 billion in Afghanistan since the start of this war. Our youngest soldiers now serving in some of the most dangerous places on earth were just eight years old when our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001. It’s time we start bringing our troops home.”

Is this the same Congressman Heinrich who embraced Obama's December 2009 announcement of sending even more troops over to Afghanistan? The flashback:

President Obama articulated both the necessary resources and a clear strategy to accomplish our goals in Afghanistan and the region. This is a critical step forward, and frankly, it should have taken place years ago.

Well, they were sitting on their hands in the Peoples Republic of the Southeast Heights when they heard that back in '09. But with this "new and improved" position, Martin has got them back again. And it's not just the ponytail crowd tired of the foreign entanglement. The political center is also starting to doubt the involvement. You might say the war is fast becoming as welcome as a Protestant at a Mora County penitente gathering.

SPEAKING OF....

Speaking of Mora--Hector's home county--while Martin was doing war maneuvers, Hector was trying to line up troops for his underdog campaign. His pickings seem a bit slim in the early going. He did, however, manage to come with enough signatures to fill a respectable sized letterhead. Let's take a look:

State Senator Phil Griego (D-San Jose), State Senator Cynthia Nava (D-Las Cruces), Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), Taos County Commissioner Larry Sanchez (D), New Mexico Rep. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces), New Mexico Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque) and Springer Mayor Danny Cruz (D) today announced their support for Hector Balderas' campaign for the United States Senate.

Now you expect us to get through each and every name and give a reason why they are with Hector and not Martin? Come on, it's almost the weekend. Okay, we'll tackle a couple and then head out.

Senator Griego can be kind of conservative on the social issues. Maybe Hector starts heading to Martin's right on that stuff as he woos Hispanic social conservatives, many of whom are Democrats. He needs to think about it as Heinrich is locking down the liberals.

Guess we have to take Las Cruces State Rep. Cervantes off our possible list of other Dem Senate candidates. We had him on the blog the other day. Cervantes also has a conservative streak on some of the social issues--he favors the death penalty--and is also a bit of a maverick and Hector is the anti-establishment candidate.

Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham fought Heinrich for the 2008 Dem nomination for the US House seat Martin now has. Maybe she still has hard feelings,

The endorsements are a start for Hector, but that he couldn't come up with a lot more right away indicates how steep a hill he has to climb.

POKING HOLES

Maybe Hector can poke some holes in the many endorsements Heinrich is receiving from various Dem interest groups. He's getting some help from one of our Alligators who is affiliated with AFSCME. They say that big labor endorsement of Heinrich smacks of a wire job for Martin:

The endorsement of Martin over Hector angered a lot of the AFSCME members across the north. It has a real Washington stench to it. The convention to elect new committee members in not until June. Those new members would have endorsed the candidates for the next election cycle. So why was it done 14 months before the primary? I know many members up north that are going against AFSCME's endorsement. My view on it is, Hector could help Obama a lot more than Martin can in the north where Obama will need a strong showing to win this state in 2012.

Aaah, the stench of Washington. Does that smell like enchiladas with old sour cream or something?

EARLY, EARLY POLL

Heather Wilson has announced her candidacy for the GOP nod for US Senate and Lt. Governor John Sanchez has said he is looking at the race, but hasn't announced. Nevertheless, the first auto dial poll of GOP voters by a GOP polling firm is out and it's no surprise that Heather is well in the lead:

(The poll was) an autodial survey of 801 likely Republican primary voters. The survey finds former Congresswoman Heather Wilson starting off in a very strong position with....55% having a very favorable opinion of her, and only 12% having an unfavorable opinion..58% have a favorable opinion of John Sanchez, 22% have a very favorable opinion, and 13% have an unfavorable opinion.

Heather Wilson currently leads John Sanchez by a commanding 42 points, 59% to 17%, Greg Sowards has 2% support, 11% support for "some other candidate", and 11% are undecided.

Wilson lost her 2008 Senate primary run against Steve Pearce and she remains unpopular in many conservative circles. National conservatives ran TV ads against her in her race against Pearce.

Her top number against an unannounced candidate is 59%--but a formal announcement by Sanchez would dramatically change the numbers. We don't know if the firm associated with the poll leans Wilson's way (they say they have no business relationships with any of the candidates and did the poll on their own) but they did her a big favor by doing a poll of an announced candidate against one who is isn't. Wilson supporters are hoping these early numbers will discourage Sanchez from getting in, but think about this. If Wilson peaks out at 59% against an unannounced Sanchez that is almost certainly her best number for the campaign. Take her down nine points and you have a tie ball game.

Candidate Sowards also made a good point as he noted that 37 percent of GOP voters said they would "definitely" vote for Wilson. He argued that leaves a big opening to Wilson's right.

The full poll is here and here.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Now for your weekend entertainment, amusement and bemusement we present the following from one Colonel Robert Cunningham in ABQ:

OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE IS PHONY!

Just another media-hyped communist con-game and cracked within an hour of release
--despite media coverage ever since without mention of the obvious forgery suppression?

While it remains available, download the document from the White House site. Then open it in Adobe Illustrator - the layers are clear and absolute! A pdf file shouldn't have layers and a pristine file shouldn't have evidence of tampering. This phony document has both! Anyone can do it and everyone who does will know the damned thing is a manufactured forgery. Only communist media and politicians will continue to hype this atrocity as valid...

We get it, Colonel. We've really missed the communist conspiracy, too.

Okay, Jay Leno. Finish us up for the week:


The man who invented the teleprompter has died at the age of 91. In fact, when he heard the news, President Obama was speechless.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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