Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Bear Market Beat: He's Still Prowling ABQ, Plus: There Are Now Two Halls In The House, And: Jones Vs. Payne; The Latest ABQ Campaign Action 

You don't hear many of the Pollyannas trotting out that old canard that "things in Albuquerque aren't as bad as they are other places." That's because the devastation that has occurred in the private sector job market here is undeniable and in plain sight. As you drive around the metro you see what a modern day commercial and residential real estate collapse looks like.

The latest figures show not only the collapse of the housing and financial bubbles here, they show our hit was among the worst in the nation. From April 2008 through April 2011, the government reports the ABQ area lost nearly 33,000 private sector jobs. That's a ten percent decline. Only six other cities among the nation's top 100 metro areas fared worse. And we've previously noted how the carnage is spreading to the government sector, with the state shedding over 3,300 such jobs in the year ended in April.

The worst appears to be over, but we've described our area as "flatlined." The unemployment rate has dipped because people are moving out of here, giving up looking for work, taking part-time jobs or jamming into area schools to get new skills.

Now we're starting to hear the phrase "the new normal" applied to the current scene. If so, ABQ businesses will have to get used to their already smaller bottom lines and city government will have to deal with years more of mostly no-growth budgets.

But maybe the Pollyannas are about to have their day and things will bounce back sooner than expected. If not, at least everyone can enjoy some lighter traffic as fewer people drive to work and others cut back because gas prices remain out of sight.


Engineer John Kelly,who raised over $14,000 for his campaign for a spot on the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, saw the pay-off Tuesday night. He trounced incumbent Augusta Myers 59% to 21%--with other challengers trailing--to take her Bernalillo County seat. Kelly positioned himself as a reformer for the panel which oversees irrigation and flood control. Now we'll see if he delivers.

In other results, former board member Bill Turner was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat incumbent Eugene Abeita. Turner finished third, with John Avila taking second.

And current board president Janet Jarratt lost her Valencia County seat to Johnny Paiz.

That's two of three incumbents biting the dust, perhaps affirming the anti-incumbent trend we saw with full effect in the 2010 cycle.

Rep. Jim Hall
Congrats to Republican Jim Hall of Los Alamos for his appointment by Gov. Martinez to the state House, but how we are going to keep him straight with ABQ GOP Rep. Jimmie Hall? The news:

Gov. Martinez appointed Los Alamos Republican Jim Hall to the Legislature to succeed Rep. Jeannette Wallace, who died in April. Hall is a member of the Los Alamos County Council and served as chief information officer under former GOP Gov. Gary Johnson. Hall once worked at Los Alamos
National Laboratory. Martinez selected from candidates recommended by county governments in Los Alamos, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties, which make up House District 43....

Jim Hall is a native of Hobbs and has a Masters from UNM in management. Jimmie Hall is also from Texas (just kidding, Hobbs is still in NM). He was born in the town of McCamey, TX and has a Masters in animal science from West Texas State University.

Now you Alligators lobbying these guys can tell them apart.


The rap on Trudy Jones is that she's a do nothing city councilor, but faced with a re-election challenge from former councilor and fellow Republican Greg Payne for her ABQ NE Heights seat, Jones is turning on the afterburners and circulating what she sees as her accomplishments. From the Bernalillo County GOP newsletter:

Councilor Jones has worked to protect the Bear Canyon Arroyo and John B. Robert Dam from invasive infrastructure improvements by proposing legislation and working with neighborhood groups to address any potential changes to the area.

She has become very active in the Veterans Memorial Park and feels it is important to continue to support the memorial....Councilor Jones has also made it a focus...to maintain and revitalize community facilities. She has made it a priority to return tax dollars to the taxpayers by providing more services through the beloved Bear Canyon Senior Center and broadly used Holiday Park Community Center. Councilor Jones' passion for the City's libraries shows in her commitment to see the best use of the only library in District 8, the Juan Tabo Library....

Well, it's not a record that puts the race away, but Payne has problems of his own. He was unable to qualify for public financing which means he is going to have to raise private money while the GOP establishment fights him every step of the way. Jones rejected public financing. She is expected to come with her own cash and biz contributions. She has hired Governor Martinez's political consultant Jay McCleskey. Third party money from the GOP could also be a factor in her favor, say insiders.

Payne says despite not qualifying for over $30,000 in public financing dollars, he won't be stopped by "the clique" that opposes him and is staying in the race. The stakes don't get much higher. The GOP majority on the council is 5 to 4. If elected, independent Republican Payne could tip the balance of power away from GOP Mayor Berry. Our insiders say momentum in the race is now with Jones, but Payne's willingness to burn shoe leather and his past winning record keep him in the game.

If the Jones-Payne face-off falters, city election watchers are going to get bored fast. The other three council races are not yet competitive. But then there will be bond issues and in this environment could there be a question about all of them passing? We'll see....

(For some equal newsletter time, here are some from the Bernalillo County Democratic Party).


Some of Mayor Berry's more conservative supporters may be seeing red after his administration ushered through the city council a new contract to keep those controversial red light cameras flashing. During his 2009 campaign, Berry hedged on what he would do. The contract renewal passed but Berry lost the support of two of the conservative councilors---Dan Lewis and Michael Cook--as the cameras were voted back on with a 7 to 2 vote.

Lewis, who is seeking the GOP nod for the ABQ US House seat, wanted to put the issue to a public vote. If he had won on that, observers said it could potentially increase the number of conservative and anti-incumbent voters in the October city election. That might have helped Payne against Jones, but it isn't going to happen. (The council will officially vote on putting the red lights on the ballot at a later date. It is expected to be rejected).


Heather Wilson has brought in her former congressional chief of staff, Bryce Dustman, 54, to manage her GOP US senate campaign. He's set up shop in the ABQ North Valley. He is heavy on Hill experience, but this will be his first management gig.

Meanwhile, the aggressive duel between Heather and her chief rival, Lt. Governor John Sanchez, continues unabated. Sanchez
is accusing Wilson of "again taking new positions completely contrary to her liberal record as a member of Congress."

A politician changing their position? What's the world coming to?

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