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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Some Follow-Up Reports On Recent Blogging, And: Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico 

KOAT-TV picked up on the news that we broke here this week revealing that state economic development director and possible 2012 ABQ GOP congressional hopeful Jon Barela has some economic problems of his own. Barela asserts that the real estate development he and a small
group of investors are involved in is not a "failed project," even though the bank backing it has called in a $3.5 million loan and gone to court against Barela and the others in an effort to collect.

The station says the Guv's office remains "largely behind" Barela. The meaning of "largely" is left to the imagination of the viewer.

NO NATIVES?

If anyone can answer this question from blog reader Jacob "Jackie" Block you get a free enchilada lunch:

Hey Joe, If either Martin Heinrich or Heather Wilson wins the Senate race that means that we will not have a native born New Mexican in the US Senate. Has this happened before and if so when?

And if it has never happened, that will be the winning answer, but we have to know with certainty. We're not throwing free chile around this place, even if it is Thanksgiving.

PEN PALS

How seriously threatened is funding for Los Alamos and Sandia Labs under a new proposal that we blogged about Thursday? We had a back and forth about that with Jamie Dickerman, the news secretary for southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce:

Hi Joe, I was reading your article on the consolidation plan with the labs and had a couple of questions.

First, you mention that the Inspector General is calling for consolidation and cuts in the lab system. But, who are these “fiscal police” you mention in the first paragraph trying to break up the lab system? Next, what do you mean when you mention a “shot across the bow?” No one is talking about cutting the labs by 10 %. You give the impression that Congress is gutting the labs. This is not a congressional proposal. It’s an IG report, but there is no legislative plan. While we do not know if the Secretary of DOE is going to act upon any of this, Congress has to pull the trigger, and they’re not looking at any plans to consolidate the lab system.

Thanks for the note, Jamie. We see this as a major paradigm shift in the discussion of the labs' future. The ten percent haircut I mentioned was to illustrate the economic importance of the labs, and clearly not a prediction.

The "shot across the bow" is the fact that this radical proposal is being put out there. For 65 years, the labs have had growing budgets or at least flat ones. The IG is talking about ending that reality.

The "fiscal police" are composed of several factions, including the Tea Party which looks at disdain at much federal spending. As you know, it has a loud voice in the House GOP caucus.

You are correct that the Congress ultimately will decide the fate of labs' funding, but the administration proposes. Will an administration at some near future point propose the consolidation that the IG is floating?

It would be imprudent for our state's congressional delegation to flatly dismiss as far fetched the talk circulating in Washington. You can be sure congressional delegations from the other states mentioned by the IG as experiencing "pain" from a consolidation won't.

I appreciate the thoughts and hope you will pass mine on to Steve. Going forward, we hope to see him exert his leadership to protect the federal funding for our national labs and defense establishment that is so vital to the well-being of his constituents and the entire state.

Regards,
Joe

Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico.

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