Friday, July 29, 2011
Wrapping A Busy July: The Jobs Watch; How About Some, Intel? Also: Some Space Blogging, Adair's Redistricting And Some Old New Mexico Friends
July is usually a languid month when it comes to politics, but the scandal over ABQ Public Safety Director Darren White and a slew of other news combined to defy that tradition. We'll see if August continues the trend or whether the politicos get a chance to chill before the summer sun starts to hide. For now, let's wrap up the busy month that was....
We pointed out this week how New Mexico ranks last in the nation in job creation, but there is a glimmer of hope. From the latest state report:
The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing June 2011 with June 2010, was 0.3 percent, representing an increase of 2,400 jobs. June is significant as the first time in 32 months that we have reported actual job growth on a year-over-year basis. The recovery likely started a while back, but lack of significant momentum left the state’s job growth rate close to the zero line for more than a year.
After three brutal years, has the bottom finally been reached? Well, nothing goes down forever. But how are we going to fill the empty bucket back up? Let's talk....
COME ON, INTEL
It's frustrating to hear a chief decider at Intel Corp, a key driver in the state's manufacturing economy, hem and haw when asked about expanding the work force here. The bad news is that Intel says it plans no expansion here. The worse news is that Intel is now saying it may need even more incentives--that we are losing our competitive edge with other states. That sounds like the company is playing the states against one another. We can't win that game with our small population and tax base.
The plant in Rio Rancho has shrunk from over 5,200 employees to some 3,300 today, even as they make plans to add 1,000 workers at their Chandler, AZ facility. (Intel has spent significant money to regularly expand and improve the NM facility).
Governor Martinez recently announced an easing in regulations that Intel wanted, but what have we gotten? Zip.
Martinez should take a fresh look at the incentives offered Intel and see if we are doing all we reasonably can, but she--and the state--shouldn't have to keep giving and not getting.
The Spaceport in southern NM will deliver jobs, but we understand the impatience there. Bloomberg comes with that story and more in an in depth update on Spaceport America.
One tidbit of news came from Spaceport executive director Christine Andersen:
While the first phase of construction, which includes roads, the hangar and the runway, is 87 percent complete, Andersen said the spaceport won’t be fully functional until 2013.
Governor Martinez is never quoted in any Spaceport articles, but if we are going to grow this project to its potential and not cede it to other states, we need executive leadership.
How about a Governor who fights as hard for jobs as she does to repeal driver's licenses for illegal immigrants? Just a thought....
DRAWING THE LINES?
A major eyebrow raiser in Valencia County as the demographic firm of Roswell GOP State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair is selected to redistrict the county commission lines there.
"Seriously? Really? A Republican senator is going to redistrict our county," (Democratic Commissioner Ron) Gentry asked. "Doesn't that seem like a conflict of interest?" Republican Secretary of State Dianne Duran was at the meeting to answer the commissioner's questions about adjusting the precinct boundaries.
"We have a citizen Legislature. They have jobs outside of the Legislature," Duran said. "When we (she and Gentry) served in the House, I was a deputy county clerk and you owned a voting machine company. We all have some kind of conflict of interest, if you want to call it that. Unless we have a paid Legislature, we have a problem with all 112 legislators."
"I had enough sense not to sell machines in the county I ran in," Gentry said. "I served with Sen. Adair and I know him well. It's just amazing."
Adair's firm submitted the low bid of about $18,000 to draw the new lines. The selection is made by the county manager and not the commission because the contract is below $30,000. There are two Dems and three R's on the Valencia County Commission. Adair's company--New Mexico Demographic Research was recently awarded the nearly $16,000 redistricting contract for Chaves County.
Then there is the redistricting of the entire state that will take place at a special legislative session in September. If there is gridlock and no bill gets passed, the matter goes to court. That's when the money clock starts ticking with legal and consulting fees. Who would be those consultants? Any sitting state senators?
The ABQ firefighters union has voted "no confidence" in fire chief James Breen. An Alligator reports:
The vote of no confidence was 64%--36%. The upside for Breen? The aggravated DWI charges against Kimberly Swidt, his ex-fiancee--were dismissed on the same day.
It's yet another public safety headache for Mayor Berry who is still dealing with the scandal that engulfed Darren White and forced him to resign as the city's public safety director.
And there's more, Mr. Mayor and APD Chief Schultz. Take a look:
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center Task Force On Social Justice for Public Safety will be holding a news conference today (Friday)...to discuss their intention to petition the City Council next Monday to ask the US Department of Justice for an investigation of the ABQ Police Department and its abusive and lethal practices in dealing with crisis situations. The task force will discuss the 19 officer involved shootings in ABQ...since January 2010,
Will former President Bill Clinton add any political events to his schedule when he comes to the ABQ area for a leadership talk for the Laguna Development Corp that runs Route 66 casino? Remember how Bill played golf with then-ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez back in the glory years of the 90's?
Well, Marty is running for the Dem nomination for the ABQ US House seat now. We're sure the ex-mayor's golf clubs are in fine shape should Bill call up and want a round--and Marty's tin cup is all polished too, just in case Bill wants to help him hold it out for some welcome campaign booty.
Thinking of President Clinton, he has had a special relationship with New Mexico and kept our state under his wing. His friendship with former Governor Bruce King--whose funeral he spoke at--was like father and son. On the other hand, his relationship with former Governor Richardson soured when Big Bill endorsed Obama over Hillary for the '08 Dem presidential nomination.
Clinton traveled here often during his two terms in the White House and the state fared well under his watch. He grew up in humble circumstances in Arkansas and seemed to have an innate understanding of the struggle of so many New Mexicans. He took to the food and culture and even spent an entire week in ABQ preparing for a TV debate for his '96 re-election bid. The state rewarded Clinton's fondness with big wins in '92 and '96.
Before Bill, President Franklin Roosevelt burrowed his way into the hearts and minds of New Mexicans. FDR made his special New Mexican relationship with Clyde Tingley, the legendary and longtime mayor of ABQ who also served as Governor. The down-to-earth Tingley, who regularly mangled the English language, forged an unusual personal connection with the aristocratic FDR. He made the President laugh. As a result, millions flowed to the state during the Great Depression. Roosevelt Park and the ABQ Little Theatre are just two examples that are with us to this day.
FDR carried New Mexico in all four of his presidential campaigns and ushered in the Democratic era here. He is still revered in large sections of the state and Bill Clinton never wears out his welcome in this Land of Enchantment.
Old friends are like that.
Thanks for joining us this week.
Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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