Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crashing In Santa Fe: Job Losses Totaled; Mayor Tries To Dig Out Of Hole, Plus: Dan Lewis Council Backing Questioned, And: Las Cruces Mayor Touted 

Stuff you thought you would never see in the government insulated economy of Santa Fe:

(The) report notes a major decline from the 65,710 jobs in Santa Fe County in 2008, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest, preliminary numbers available, for the first quarter of 2011, showed 59,989 jobs in the county. That’s a drop-off of more than 5,700 jobs, a decline of 8.7 percent.

As a result, the slow motion commercial and residential Santa Fe real estate crash would seem to have more legs.

And there's more on the greatest Bear Market in the modern history of the City Different:

...Statistics show (the construction industry) lost 10 percent of its jobs over the past year. A recent analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America ranked the City Different 322 out of 337 American cities in the health of its construction employment. Santa Fe lost 300 industry jobs during the 12 months ending in September. The numbers are nothing new to locals trying to make a living in the business. “It’s just devastating. We’ve been in the business here 63 years and never seen anything like this,” said Robert Lockwood, president of Lockwood Construction.

Amid this economic destruction, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss is back asking taxpayers for a "small" property tax increase. He wants to float a $30 million bond to invest in buildings parks and other capital spending. Voters will decide the proposal in March.

But Coss and his City Council allies had to back off last April from a proposed gross receipts tax hike to address the city's budget problems. Citizens applied the heat.

And Coss may have trouble again in March. The group "Santa Fe Coalition for Good Government" is back in action and opposing the property tax hike.
The mayor's proposal would help out the construction industry, but he may have to find a way to do it without asking beleaguered middle-class homeowners to cough up more cash.


And ABQ Mayor Berry can't escape the Bear. After two years in office, he gets this news:

The Duke City has shed 9.44 percent of its private-sector jobs since September 2007, resulting in a loss of 29,900 as of September 2011, according to an On Numbers analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Has any business of consequence moved into this town in the last three years? None we have seen.


The city of Santa Fe's situation is another example of why we've been pounding the table with the Legislature and its Legislative Finance Committee to look in every nook and cranny and start spending the hundreds of millions of capital outlay that is just sitting there.

Back on the Santa Fe job scene. Big Bill slapped on a hiring freeze a couple of years ago and Susana has been announcing sporadic layoffs. Those state jobs are the primary engine of Santa Fe county. Until the next bull market comes along and government hiring resumes, the city will struggle. That's why sparking construction with capital outlay and tourism with increased promotional spending make so much sense right now. (At least if you are not a member of the Legislative Finance Committee).


It sure sounded like an endorsement when ABQ City Councilor and GOP congressional candidate Dan Lewis came with this:

..All the Republican Albuquerque City Councilors--Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, Don Harris, and Mike Cook, as well as all the Republican Bernalillo County Commissioners--Wayne Johnson and Michael Weiner, have joined together to host a major fundraiser for my campaign on Tuesday, November 29...

But the ABQ Journal's Sean Olson dug a little deeper and found that only one of the Republicans--Councilor Dan Harris--is willing to formally endorse Lewis. The rest are backing off any official endorsement.

So what's going on? City Councilor Trudy Jones, tied in to the Martinez-McCleskey machine like no other ABQ politico, said she is supporting Lewis "for now" but could change her mind if someone else gets in the race. And who might be that someone else? We won't put words in Trudy's mouth (okay, we will) but that would be 2010 GOP US House nominee and current economic development secretary (Designate) Jon Barela.

Barela appears to be prepping for a run and it is driving Lewis crazy. His fence-sitting has stopped cash coming into the Lewis campaign and now it has led him to push the envelope and appear to claim endorsements he doesn't have. So goes the pressure as the fight for the United States Congress starts to be joined.


Word is circulating among the Alligator set that Sally Mayer, a constituent service aide to Mayor Berry, will become a deputy director at the state Workers' Compensation Administration. Mayer is a former ABQ city councilor whose daughter, Monica Jacobson, was named state tourism secretary by Gov. Martinez. Sally's luck sure has turned. A couple of years ago the papers were filled with stories about how she was struggling and working at a retail store. Perseverance pays off in politics--as does having Republicans in charge of the Guv and Mayor's office when you are a longtime R.


Mayer is the latest in what has become quite a long line of Berry aides who are departing the 11th floor of City Hall. The exodus started this summer with the demise of hyper-controversial Public Safety Director Darren White. This has given rise to speculation that Berry remains undecided about seeking a second term in 2013. The odds always favor the incumbent wanting more, but we're keeping our eye on this for you. If Berry did retire to the sidelines, it would be quite interesting to see what R's would emerge as mayoral contenders.


That smashing re-election win Tuesday by Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima has them talking. He garnered 62% in a three way race to secure a second four year term. So, what about the future? Could Miyagishima take his act to the statewide stage? Why not? He might just be an intriguing lieutenant governor candidate. Dona Ana County and Las Cruces are critical to Republican Governor Martinez who has already announced her 2014 re-election bid. What if Miyagishima was #2 on the Dem ticket? Could he help hold Susana off in Cruces and improve the party's chances to take back the Guv's chair?

His whopper of a win gets you thinking
about who will be the Dem nominee for Governor in three years? We're going to need a double cappuccino to get our juices flowing on that difficult question.


The dust has settled on the battle over the appointment to the vacant ABQ state Senate seat of Republican Kent Cravens and the R's have taken the moral high ground. The clash revealed how polarized politics has become.

Despite longstanding tradition, the Bernalillo and Sandoval County Commissions--controlled by the Dems--refused to send to the Governor a Republican name to consider for the appointment. The Cravens district is heavy R. If Lisa Curtis, the Dem lawyer who is the only name sent up to the Guv, gets the appointment, she will be unable to get elected to the Senate. Cravens left the seat to take a job as a lobbyist with the oil and gas industry.

GOP Bernalillo Commissioners Johnson and Wiener argued heartily and eloquently that not appointing an R was a slap in the face of the voters in the NE Heights district and will damage relationships among the commissioners as well as with the Governor. They pointed out the long precedent of both Dems and R's giving vacant appointments to the party that controls the seat.

But these days politicians toss aside precedent and tradition like empty peanut shells. No wonder more and more voters don't want to be identified with either party.


The debate over the true boundaries of the ABQ South Valley continues to draw heated email. From Joe Campos:

Seems like that Senior Alligator is at it again. First he tries to tell us we cannot use a stainless steel paddle to stir chicharrones! Now he is an authority on the boundaries of the South Valley. He doesn't have a clue. Barelenos and Atrisquenos have been and will be tied together as The South Valley! Just ask those Heights people who make nasty comments about the South Valley.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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