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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Still Getting Slammed: ABQ Gas Price Shock & Its Impact, Plus: Navajo Politics Updated, And: Heinrich Video Draws Spoofers 

Gas prices in the ABQ metro have sliced through $3.50 a gallon like a hot knife through butter, jolting anew consumer confidence in an area where the jobless rate is stubbornly stuck at 9.0 percent, above the national and statewide rates.

The oil price soaring past $108 a barrel means some extra royalty cash flowing to state coffers (not as much as higher natural gas prices would bring in) but the high pump prices will mean less spending at restaurants and retail stores depriving the state and city of gross receipts income. Gas was going for around $3.59 a gallon at most stations we surveyed Wednesday. The question is how long will these high prices last and how high will they go? If they last for more than a couple of months they threaten to tear another hole in the economy.

Look at this way. A lot of the jobs around here pay $10 or $15 an hour. A gallon of gas at $4.00 can be a life-changing event for many thousands.

ON THE JOB

Speaking of jobs, we were peeling the onion on the state's February unemployment report and noticed that there was an appreciable rise in joblessness among those providing "professional services." We asked just what services those were and were told they include lawyers, accountants, scientific research organizations, employment services (temp agencies), business support services (call centers). And here's the grim news on this sector in the ABQ metro which includes Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance Counties:

Professional & business services again registered the largest numeric decline of any industry, down 2,000 jobs or 3.5 percent from its February 2010 level. At 54,700, total employment has fallen to its lowest level since February 1999 and is off 11,400 jobs from a series high of 66,100 in August 2008....

So the Great Recession--receding in other parts of the USA--still lingers here, and it is taking a bite out of the hides of the professional classes, not just construction workers.

The stats on the lawyers and accountants dovetails with anecdotal evidence we've been hearing that small and medium-sized businesses in the city have been laying off workers or reducing hours.

NAVAJO LA POLITICA

We ran this pic Tuesday of the Guv in Shiprock, but a reader in Indian Country says we did not quite get the description right when we referenced the Navajos "in their full ceremonial garb."

It should be noted the "Navajo Indians in their full ceremonial garb," are actually Navajos wearing Northern Plains style costumes, otherwise known as "grass" & "fancy" dance outfits. These outfits are not traditional to the Diné people (Navajo). The ceremonial part is debatable. In Indian Country, we call these photo ops "the show" for visitors.

Well, it was quite a show.....

And now its Alligator vs. Alligator out in Indian Country. One of the Gators there speculated that State Sen. Lynda Lovejoy may have had some influence in picking the new secretary of Indian Affairs, Navajo Arthur Allison. But another Alligator in good standing says that's not the way it came down and we think he's got it nailed:

Sen. Lynda Lovejoy had nothing to do with the selection of Arthur Allison as the new Secretary of Indian Affairs. She was never in the loop on the selection process. In fact, it was Lovejoy's nemesis, State Rep. Sandra Jeff, who played a key role in Allison's selection.


As you may recall, Sandra Jeff broke ranks with Democrats on several positions and supported the Governor's positions on several high profile issues in the recent legislative session. I was also on the stage during the bill signing when Art Allison's nomination was announced and Lovejoy had a "deer in the headlights" look on her face, because she had no idea or role in Art Allison's pick. Lovejoy also had no idea that her nemesis--Rep. Sandra Jeff--was going to be on stage at the bill signing. Lovejoy very likely thought that the event was just going to be about her. Here's
a story that also provides more clarification...

The Governor is definitely being smart and making inroads into the Navajo Nation. She probably also realizes that the numbers also make it in her best interest to court Navajo votes, because they far outnumber all the other 21 tribes/pueblos in the state combines....


That Farmington Times story linked to does report that Rep. Jeff played a role in the search for the new secretary. And here's a New Mexican story on how Jeff and Lovejoy, both Navajos, clashed during the final minutes of the legislative session. We ran a story on Jeff breaking with Dem Speaker Lujan this past session and no doubt that put her in good stead with the Fourth Floor. We also mentioned that former Gallup Mayor Bob Rosebrough is weighing a primary challenge to Jeff, depending on what the NW NM district looks like after the redistricting session later this year.

In any event, being a gringo from Pennsylvania, the often complex politics of Indian Country proves on occasion to be above our pay grade--and even an Alligator or two out there sometimes goes astray.

SPOOFING HEINRICH

That video Martin Heinrich came with to announce his US Senate bid Saturday--"The Decision"--has caught the attention of the cyberspace spoofers. They've got one up called "The Decider." It features an actor posing as the ABQ congressman and rehearsing his video appearance by exclaiming, "I'm Martin Heinrich, the sexiest man on Capitol Hill and I'm going to be your next Senator."

Taking it to the extreme, the three minute spoof has a picture of Karl Marx behind "Martin Heinrich." And they don't forget those elk steaks Martin was frying up for the family on the coming out video that portrayed him as an average Martin. The fake Martin Heinrich digs into an elk steak and says he "killed it himself," a reference to a report here that Heinrich killed and gutted the elk that he served up to his family in the form of elk fajitas.

All this, of course, is to call into question the sincerity and authenticity of the new Senate candidate. But Martin probably will snicker at it. Things promise to be much rougher if and when he faces off with the GOP Senate nominee.

REMEMBER THE HYPHEN

Republican columnist and legislative aide Brigette Russell comes with this rib-tickler from cabinet secretary Jon Barela who failed to win confirmation from the state senate:

Jon Barela, Economic Development Secretary-designate, quips that they are “the few, the proud, the hyphenated.”


Secretary of Education-designate Skandera also carries the hyphen in her title because she too failed to win senate confirmation. However, unconfirmed cabinet secretaries are still allowed to serve.

Barela may be leaving his hyphen behind if he decides to seek the GOP nomination for the ABQ House seat that Martin Heinrich is giving up to make a run for the US Senate. Barela was the 2010 GOP nominee, losing to Heinrich in a squeaker.

As for Skandera, what can you say? She is already knee deep in the politics of education in the state. The latest news is that her department underestimated the budget needs for the public schools and that means steeper public school cuts than the Legislature planned.

EXPLORING

Like Barela, former ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones is weighing a bid for the nomination for the ABQ US House seat. She comes with her website Janice2012Explore.

And how about Democratic ABQ City Councilor Ken Sanchez running for the ABQ House seat? He's looking at it, say friends.

DEAD WRONG?

A reader in Washington reacts to our blog on the need for the city of ABQ to keep on board its $90,000 a year DC lobbyist:

Joe, You're dead wrong that ANY city, county, or school in New Mexico needs a DC lobbyist. My gosh, the delegation is only 5 members. I've worked in DC and know that the doors to every member of the NM delegation are always open to any constitutent. In addition, every member of the delegation spends considerable time in the state meeting directly with these entities...What DC lobbyists do offer that no one else does is a nice time in DC. Do we really need to spend $90,000 so that the mayor and city councilors can have a nice dinner twice a year at Capitol Grille, or Cafe Milano? I don't think so.


City Councilor Winter wants to abolish the DC lobbying post, but it doesn't appear he has the votes. Mayor Berry supports keeping the DC presence.

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