Thursday, August 18, 2011
Albuquerque's Woeful Economy Still The Big Story; Suburbs Get Slammed, Too, Plus: US Senate Action, And: More Bad And Weird News For APD
The flat-lined, dead-in-the-water ABQ economy continues. Even the perennially optimistic spokesmen for the local real estate and home building biz are throwing in the towel. There is no job creation--none--and it is simply killing housing, aways a key economic driver in the state's largest city.
Building homes and adding population and jobs has been the unobstructed path for city growth for over sixty years--until now.
On the street level, small businesses continue to struggle. A reader tells of her visit to her local manicure shop--one of many run here by Asian immigrants. She says the workers complain of how slow business has become.
Revenue into the city remains anemic. Economic development plans are nonexistent, half-baked or enigmatic. Local government hiring remains essentially frozen. The same for the public schools. Part-time work is more common as workers across-the-board see their hours cut. The food stamp and Medicaid programs are seeing record enrollments and the food banks are doing brisk business helping the cash-strapped. The candles continue to be lighted at the churches in the low income areas of ABQ as folks turn to a higher power for help in their job searches.
On the plus side, over 90 percent of the work force is indeed working. The down side? The work force here is shrinking. Will ABQ's population shrink along with it? The natural birth rate may prevent that, but the days of steady, but robust growth seem a distant memory.
To see so many houses languish on the market is bizarre. But this recession/depression is a nonstop search and destroy mission with jobs as its target. Housing is almost completely driven by the job market.
The ongoing brouhaha over illegal immigration also seems a relic of the past. Countless news reports show illegal border crossings into NM and elsewhere have evaporated. That's simple. When there are no jobs, they will not come.
Many business owners and employers are frustrated, angry or even scared. The politicians around here are bobbing and weaving, hoping that the blame stays squarely with Washington.
New Mexico is stagnating and it has been stagnating for two years. We need to get past emotional issues like driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, voter fraud allegations that turn out to be a mirage and other politically polarizing issues that keep the consultants busy but do nothing to create jobs or help our businesses make more money so they can add to their work forces.
AROUND THE METRO
The city's downtrodden economy won it the #10 spot on an ignominious list ranking the poorest suburbs in the USA.
10. Albuquerque, NM
--Suburban poverty rate: 13.6%
--City poverty rate: 15%
--Number of suburban poor: 43,449
Although Albuquerque has a number industries that have remained economically healthy throughout the past decade, it has high rates of both city and suburban poverty. Albuquerque has faced difficult times, in the last few years, compared to the rest of New Mexico. From 2009 to 2010, the metropolitan area's unemployment rate increased from 7.6% to 8.6%. The emergence of a number of green-technology manufacturers in the area has improved conditions somewhat. Meanwhile, the state's housing market remains one of the worst in the nation....
A business owner tells us she blames the media for the no-end-in-sight recession, asserting that writing of the lousy conditions makes them worse. Maybe, but in this corner we've also been sounding a positive note by shamelessly cheer leading the NM Spaceport and also urging our congressional delegation to fight like cornered rats for every slice of the federal funding pie we can get.
About the only politician seeking office that we have heard echoing both of those views is former GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones who is seeking the GOP nomination for the ABQ congressional seat. Heather Wilson and Martin Heinrich also have shown cognizance of the state's standing.
(Yes, that's the same Arnold-Jones who is reviled by a clique of Republicans running much of the show in Santa Fe and ABQ).
CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?
Mayor Berry and ABQ Police Department Chief Ray Schultz argue that APD is not out of control, but day after day it is something new. Today's entry: Masturbation with an escort. Got your attention?
An Albuquerque Police Officer was arrested Wednesday, accused of bribing a female escort by helping her with her criminal charges in exchange for sexual acts. According to the complaint, Officer Matthew Kindle "used his position of authority" to have the escort travel from Oregon to New Mexico to meet with him.
Kindle was investigating the escort for damaging a hotel room. The criminal complaint states during the contact, the officer, 15-year veteran Matthew Kindle, committed a sexual act (masturbation) during his time with the escort. The APD Vice Unit caught Kindle in the act by using a decoy escort. Kindle is charged with one count of demanding or receiving a bribe by a police officer or public employee.
The Department of Justice starts snooping around the very troubled APD today. If Mayor Berry doesn't clean house and soon, the people of the United States through their federal officials will get it done. And it won't be pretty.
We haven't heard much from GOP US Senate candidate John Sanchez lately, but this fund-raising pitch he is making caught our attention. John is now getting fully on board with the Tea Party, a change from a few months ago when he declined an opportunity to identify himself outright as a tea party adherent:
Dear Conservative Friend, I'm writing you today as the hard-charging Republican Lt. Governor of New Mexico and proud TEA PARTY conservative running for New Mexico's open U.S. Senate seat!
I'm reaching out to patriotic grassroots activists like you because this is the #1 race in America where the GOP can capture a Democrat U.S. Senate seat in 2012. They know that my record as a successful small business entrepreneur, an unwavering fiscal and social conservative, and recent top vote getter here in New Mexico is the exact combination the GOP needs to take this seat away from the liberal Democrats...
Sanchez faces Heather Wilson for the GOP nod. Pushing her to the left as Steve Pearce successfully did in 2008 in another GOP US Senate race is the name of the game. The difference this time is she sees it coming
More today on that endorsement of the candidacy of Dem US Senate hopeful Hector Balderas by five AFSCME locals. The national union has endorsed Heinrich and AFSCME political representative Carter Bundy is striking back. He says the endorsement of Balderas is no endorsement at all:
AFSCME has one, and only one, endorsement process for all of its locals, the New Mexico Council, and the International. We have a detailed, democratic process where AFSCME members in New Mexico, and only AFSCME members in New Mexico, recommend who we support. There is no local endorsement process for federal races and no authority to endorse by locals. Period.
...Our members elect a committee comprised of members from every part of the state...In an organization of 12,000 people there will always be a small percentage who vote against the members' endorsement, and that is absolutely their right. But neither they nor any campaign have the right to falsely claim an AFSCME endorsement.
The New Mexico PEOPLE Committee, representing all 12,000 of our members through a democratic process, voted unanimously and enthusiastically to support Martin Heinrich, who has a proven record of being a strong and effective advocate for the middle class and working families for almost a decade.
Both Balderas and Heinrich are generally well-liked among Dems. You can bet a lot of them dread the possibility of them nuking each other. We're not there yet, but....
MY BOTTOM LINES
Word arrives to us from Madrid, Spain of the death of Ymelda Chavez Dixon, the oldest daughter of the legendary US Senator Dennis Chavez. Imelda passed away last week in Madrid where she lived with her daughter. She was 97 years old and had been in poor health for sometime. A memorial service will be held in Washington DC and will be announced in the Washington Post.
Democrat Dennis Chavez went to the Senate in 1935. He died in office in 1962.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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