Friday, April 22, 2011

Wrapping The Week: UNM's Schmidly Packs It In, Confusion Over Jobless Rate, Heinrich With More Union Backing As Balderas Prepares To Enter 

It was another jam-packed week here at the home of New Mexico politics and the state's #1 political blog. We send you down the bunny trail with a basket full of political treats. Happy Easter!....

The sighs of relief at the University of New Mexico seemed to float across town as President David Schmidly read the proverbial writing on the wall and announced that after four years at the helm he will head for the exits in June 2012. The beleaguered Schmidly, target of a no-confidence vote from the faculty and ailing with serious illness, had a winning personality but his stewardship was riddled with state politics emanating from former Governor Big Bill. A clean break with that past is long overdue. It's not certain but you would expect UNM executive vice-president David Harris to depart with Schmidly. Harris was the political connection to Richardson. He controls the money flow at UNM and thus the keys to the kingdom.

UNM has been battered around in recent years like a piñata at a seven year old's birthday party. The Regents will need to select a strong, independent leader, without the guidance of the outgoing president. Governor Martinez can assist by advocating for a candidate who has no ties to La Politica and desires none. We include in that the semi-outlandish speculation that former ABQ GOP Congresswoman and now GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson might be a presidential possibility.


You wonder why they bother. The state puts out the March jobless report, saying unemployment in ABQ dropped from 9.0 percent to 8.5 percent and then immediately walks it back:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Albuquerque MSA was 8.5 percent in March, down from 9.0 percent in February. The 0.5 percentage point drop was possibly due, at least in part, to a statistical anomaly in Current Population Survey data, which showed a steep drop in unemployed persons statewide from February to March. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also stood at 8.5 percent a year ago.

New Mexico made national news when this week it was announced that it led the nation in the decline in unemployment. The Labor Department report said the state's March rate plunged to 8.1 percent down from 8.7 percent in February. But that report is also being looked on skeptically and officials say it could be revised to reflect a less dramatic decline.

Maybe it's time for the government to change the way it measures the state unemployment rate?


Was it just us or did everyone else get the munchies when they watched Gary Johnson declare his presidential candidacy? You go, Gary. (His Prez website is here. Complete video of his New Hampshire announcement is here.)


Rep. Martin Heinrich and the major labor unions are doing their best to signal to State Auditor Hector Balderas that challenging Heinrich for the Dem US Senate nomination will be a very uphill climb. Balderas filed paperwork with the FEC Thursday, confirming his candidacy which he is set to formally announce next week. From Heinrich:

AFSCME announced its support for Congressman Martin Heinrich’s bid for the Democratic nomination for Senate. New Mexico members on AFSCME’s political committee, PEOPLE, voted unanimously to recommend a national endorsement of the Congressman.

"Our members are middle class, hard-working New Mexicans. Martin is one of us, and he has gone to bat for regular working people both here in New Mexico and across the country” said AFSCME’s Patty French.

Hector's fund-raising will now be closely watched. If it is tepid, he could abort his campaign early. He does not have to give up his state auditor seat to make the Senate race.


From the email:

Hi Joe,
I am 1 of 76 people authorized to sell Virgin Galactic space travel in the America’s. I’m hearing mixed info concerning Governor Martinez and Spaceport America. Are you able to give me some updates, please? Thank you! Beverly S Rother Luxury Travel Advisor YOUR Virgin Galactic Accredited Space Agent 111 N Pine Island Rd. Suite 203 Plantation, FL. 33324

Thanks for the note, Beverly. The Martinez administration seemed decidedly cool toward the Spaceport in its initial months in office, but since has warmed up. The appointment of a new executive director has raised hopes that the project is now fully back on track and has enthusiastic support in Santa Fe. But the tea leaves are being closely watched because of that initial hesitancy.


A reader writes:

Joe, you blogged this week:
...it's not unfair to point out that Democrats generally have a lot more fun in government because they like it. Republicans tolerate it."

Pardon me, but that seems a poor reason for politicians to be there. Maybe that explains why they also like to spend other peoples' money...it's just too much fun to NOT. I'm a Democrat but I'd rather tolerate government that enjoy it. And yes, I don't work for the govt.


Readers react to the demise of the NM Symphony and our remarks about it Thursday. First up is Joe Craig of ABQ:

The Symphony is one criteria that always helped economic developers decide about Albuquerque and now it is gone....Let's see, Governor Martinez is going to run for Vice President of the US and John Sanchez for Congress. Great, remind me of why we elected these folks? Oh yeah, to lead our state in the worst recession since the Great Depression. I have always been appalled at the people who just vote the incumbents out of office for change. I am afraid I am now counting myself as one of those voters.

Reader Jim McClure comes with this:

I, too, mourn the loss of the New Mexico Symphony. One of the things I have valued about living here is being able to attend a symphony concert for about what it costs to park at a concert in Chicago.

What makes Albuquerque distinctive is the proliferation of public art and sculpture that's financed by a fraction-of-a-penny gross receipts tax. We have a bad example of public support for the arts in Bernalillo County's investment in the money-pit Hiland theater. Why not extend some modest tax support to selected performing-arts institutions such as the symphony?

We blogged earlier that we thought the traditional Mother's Day symphony zoo concert might still go on, but that is not the case at this time. The rest of the season and all future ones have been canceled.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Thanks for stopping by this week.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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