Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reality Check: State GOP Credits Guv For Jobs Even As NM Ranks Dead Last In Job Growth, Plus: Lewis Makes Play For Big Bucks, And: City Beat Comments 

Chairman Newman
State GOP Chairman Monty Newman is wading into Alligator infested waters when he starts praising Governor Martinez for an apparent drop in the state's unemployment rate. Here's his spin, apparently employing the old bird hunting rule of "Shoot anything that flies, claim anything that falls."

Governor Martinez’s leadership is stemming the tide of unemployment in New Mexico while national unemployment continues to rise. New Mexico’s improving employment picture is a testament to the successful policies and pro-economic growth agenda of Governor Martinez.

But the May unemployment drop to 6.9 percent from 8.3 percent in May of 2010 is being questioned by a variety of experts, including Lee Reynis of the University of New Mexico BBER, who say there are sampling issues in getting an accurate number. (The government said Tuesday the June jobless rate came in at 6.8%.)

Most important, the state is still in awful shape when it comes to the number of jobs being created. In fact, we recently ranked 50th in the nation in the number of jobs created. That means New Mexico is plagued with the slowest rate of employment growth in the USA. Are the Governor's "successful policies" also responsible for that?

Reynis and other economic experts say the reason the jobless rate appears to be falling is because people are exhausting their unemployment benefits, others have simply given up looking for work while others are leaving the state. The state labor force is actually shrinking. It is the smallest it has been in some six years.

Chairman Monty is from Lea County where the oil and gas boom is going strong on $100 a barrel oil. The unemployment rate there is among the lowest in the state. (Hey, how can that be with that terrible "Pit Rule" still on the books and killing the oil industry?) Anyway, maybe Monty got his home turf mixed up with statewide economic conditions because New Mexico's unemployment situation remains dismal.

Newman, long aligned with the Rep. Steve Pearce wing of the GOP, is a successful realtor who, like Pearce, is from Hobbs. He ran a pretty solid, if unsuccessful campaign, for the GOP southern congressional nod a few years back when Steve was off running for Senate. In the future, he may want to take a closer look at what hot-button political consultant Jay McCleskey is sticking under his nose before he signs off on it. (Yes, Jay's hand-picked operatives populate the state party as well as the office of the Governor).

Watch your back, Mr. Chairman.


And former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson may also share Monty's tin ear when it comes to the employment fortunes of New Mexicans. She says she is going on a "Courage to Create Jobs" tour and will travel to...guess where?--the heart of the oil gas and boom in southeastern New Mexico.

I am touring businesses and companies throughout Southeastern New Mexico this week to learn what they need me to do to help them continue to grow and create jobs when I am elected to the United States Senate.

Adjust your compass, Heather. Chavez, Eddy and Lea counties have oil in the vicinity of $100 a barrel to carry them through. You might want to cancel your Greyhound and stay right here in River City if you want to find real jobless trouble.

Politically, Heather does need to go to SE New Mexico. It is where tea party Republicans are the strongest and where her chief rival for the GOP US senate nomination, John Sanchez, poses a significant threat to her.


Now that scandalized District Court Judge Pat Murdoch has, as expected, stepped down from the bench in the wake of charges that he raped a prostitute, the lawyers will be lined up to replace him. A judicial commission sends recommendations to Governor Martinez. The good news for here is that Murdoch was a Dem so she will very likely get a chance to name an R.

Murdoch was making $113,000 a year. His retirement check will be about 75% of that or $85,000 a year.


They say deaths come in threes. Well, we have already had two political deaths--Public Safety Director Darren White and the aforementioned Judge Murdoch. Who will be third? A good guess is embattled ABQ police chief Ray Schultz who could yet become a victim of the White scandal. Whether there's merit to the theory of threes or not, we're sure Schultz is hoping someone is counting wrong.


From Hollywood, Variety has a new take on the state's film industry:

...The industry remains cautious. Although New Mexico's 25% credit remains largely intact, Martinez has called for further cuts to the state's incentives program (the state's unique interest-free loan program, for instance, has been replaced by a standard market-rate offering). Still, few believe she will get any additional trims past the state's Democrat-controlled House and Senate given the estimated 8,000-12,000 people employed directly in the state's film and TV business.

Still, (she) has already dismantled the state's film office by cutting its staff in half. Director Lisa Strout was ankled in January...Former New Mexico Independent Power Producers exec director Nick Maniatis was tapped to replace Strout. He says resources and manpower will continue to be devoted to film, but with an eye toward attracting more episodic series, post-production facilities and endeavors related to digital media and the arts.


Republican Bob Gurule is a New Mexico local government heavy weight. He has been mayor and city manger of Raton, President of the NM Municipal League and Acting Chief Administrative Officer for the city of ABQ. He says he isn't pleased with what is going on under ABQ GOP Mayor RJ Berry:

Unfortunately, when you create an unnecessary position like public safety director to oversee the police and fire departments it unnecessarily complicates where to assess the blame or plaudits. Personally, I blame no other than the mayor.

...Creating a so-called constituent services department is just as unnecessary as the aforementioned public safety position. Meanwhile, he cuts positions from the 311 Call Center, one of the most constituent-friendly and successful entities ever created in the city. (I say this as a neighborhood activist and former city manager.)

The constituent services department refers all complaints to the appropriate department, which the Mayor's office could be doing and was done under many mayors.

Also on the city beat, a point of clarification from Tuesday. The full city council next week is expected to ask the city's inspector general to conduct a probe of the Darren White scandal. However, it will be up to the IG to determine whether a full-scale probe is warranted. Still, with the mess that we have on our hands, it is hard to see how the IG is not going to conduct an independent investigation.


ABQ GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis, seeking the GOP nomination for that US House seat Dem Martin Heinrich is vacating to run for the US Senate, says he has lined up some financial help:

I'm...pleased to announce that several community leaders have joined our campaign's finance committee including:

Jim Long, President of Heritage Hotels and Resorts; Tom Tinnin of Tinnin Enterprises; John Bode, President of Bode Aviation; Chris Youngblood, Owner of Chavez-Grieves Engineering; Gary Oppedahl, President of TBAB Healthcare; J.J. Mancini, President of Desert Fuels; Albuquerque attorneys Jason Bowles, B.J. Crow, and Doug Antoon; John Biava, President of Assaigai Labs; and David Adkins, President of The Specialty Shop among others have committed to collectively raise over $750,000 over the next several months for the Lewis for Congress campaign......

Is that line-up convincing 2010 GOP congressional nominee and state economic development head Jon Barela to stay out of the race? Lewis sure hopes so. The candidate came with a modest $101,000 in his first quarterly report.

And what about Dem Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan and that Tuesday breakfast she had with supporters as she weighs a run for the ABQ congressional seat? A Senior Alligator in attendance says he thinks Michelle will pass on the run:

She is undecided about running for congress. Her concern is that we D's do not have anyone who can beat the R's. I advised her to wait a cycle because the Republicans are likely to retain control of the House. So even if she were to win in the general, and she has her doubts, what good would it be to be in the minority party? She is not going to run, in my view.

Eric Griego and Marty Chavez are announced for the congressional run. Former Sandia Pueblo Governor Stuart Paisano tells me he is ready to become the third contender and will make a final decision soon.


Several readers come with the news that Lou Gallegos, a legend in New Mexico Republican politics, is gravely ill:

Joe, Just wanted you to know that a scholar of "La Politica" is gravely ill at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque this evening. I'm certain you know Lou very well from your days with Congressman Lujan. !Que Dios lo bendiga!

Gallegos served as chief of staff to Senator Pete Domenici and in the same position to Rep. Lujan when he became Sec. of Interior under the first President Bush. Later, Lou was chief of staff to GOP Guv Gary Johnson. He ran for congress in the north against Dem Bill Richardson in 1984 and that's when we served as his communications guy.

Not many people know more about or have lived more New Mexico politics than Lou Gallegos, a native of Amalia on the NM-Colorado border, who faithfully served his state and nation whenever they called.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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