Friday, December 09, 2011

Susana And The Licenses: Third Time Is Definitely Not The Charm, Plus: A Colorado Wake-Up Call On Spaceport, And: Readers Provide The Bottom Lines 

=The third time is definitely not the charm. In fact, chances that the New Mexican Legislature will acquiesce to Governor Martinez at the 2012 session and repeal the law permitting illegal immigrants to get a driver's license are even worse than they were the first two times she was rebuffed.

Democratic Senate powerhouse John Arthur Smith--who has voted with Martinez on this--now says the state has more pressing problems to deal with when lawmakers meet for a 30 day session next month.

That means if the Guv does not come with a compromise bill--and she won't--we are going to have more wheel-spinning over the emotion-laden license issue and less attention to those "pressing problems" Smith references---jobs, the economy and a fragile state budget outlook.

Martinez is playing broken record on this one--she is again citing the opinion polls as her rationalization for the forthcoming gridlock. But it long ago became clear that the Guv is using the license controversy to pop her own popularity numbers and also garner the approval of Republicans around the country (You know, that vice-president thing that Susana and Jay really don't care about).

While we prep for another round of poll-driven political posturing as a substitute for governing, Colorado just gave us a wake-up call:

The future of Colorado's commercial space industry may lie out on the wind-whipped runways of Front Range Airport. Colorado is pursuing Federal Aviation Administration​ designation for a spaceport, with Front Range as the likely site for such a facility, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced. Front Range is located near Watkins, east of Denver. Its proposed status as "Spaceport Colorado" would allow for creation of a facility offering tourism, travel and cargo transport to space and from point to point on Earth.

But why should we worry about a competing Spaceport when there are illegal immigrants driving around in beat up pick-up trucks looking to pick chile?

It just makes you sleep better at night to know that Santa Fe has our best interests at heart, doesn't it?


The Guv worked to make the most out of the news that Lowe's, the home improvement chain, will open up an ABQ call center that she says will employ 250 by March of next year and 600 by 2013.

ABQ has lost hundreds if not thousands of call center jobs in the ongoing downturn. This will put some of them back. Bernalillo County will issue $15 million in industrial revenue bonds for Lowe's to improve infrastructure and the building it will occupy. The company pays off the bonds but gets a tax break.

There was some grumbling that Martinez made the announcement on her own at a lunch meeting of ABQ Economic Development and did not mention the key role the county played in securing the support center. Of course, the fight to take credit for mediocre paying jobs shows you just how bad things have been around here. An announcement like this five years ago would have barely been noticed.

Attracting call center jobs is a tried and true trick in New Mexico. They are not the high-paying ones everyone wants, but it is encouraging to see any movement at all.


Our mention of the proposal to use a portion of the state's permanent fund for early childhood care and education gets our "yes" vote, but not this reader's:

Joe, I'd argue against dipping into the permanent funds at this time. We're still drilling, pumping and mining and earning royalties. Let's wait until those run out, then spend that money. I know, I know. There's a terrible need for those programs but it's too big a temptation. Box of Pandoras and all that. How do other readers feel?

5.8 percent of the interest from the state's permanent fund is spent on K-12 education. The proposal--a constitutional amendment that would be sent to the voters for approval--would increase that amount by 1.2 percent which would be spent on early childhood education programs. The measure will be considered at the January legislative session. The Land Grant Permanent Fund totals $9.5 billion. Its value fluctuates with the stock and bond markets.


This WSJ article doesn't break any fresh ground, but it does tell you where the Feds are at in their various investigations of former Governor Big Bill:

...Authorities have recently concentrated on the separate grand jury looking into whether Mr. Richardson arranged for his supporters to pay off a woman who planned to say publicly that they had an extramarital affair. No charges have been filed.


Popular radio morning host TJ Trout, closing out a 25 year run at ABQ's 94 Rock, says he was not forced out of the Clear Channel owned outlet. He says because he announced he is leaving just as Clear Channel announced the firing of another popular radio host--Tony Lynn--the presumption has been that he too was given the boot:

So of course everybody thinks, Oh, TJ is being forced out. I'm not. I've been planning this for years.."

Listeners may miss Trout but Clear Channel won't. The radio company is cutting costs across the board. Well-paid veteran staffers like Trout and Lynn are in their sights. Their salaries will be relics of the past under the new radio regime. Trout won't be around to see it. He is moving to Delaware.


There were 32 seats in the old senate chamber, not 33 as one of our Alligators blogged in this week. He was reporting on the redistricting trial that was held at the old Senate chamber in the Bataan Building in Santa Fe. The Legislature moved to the Roundhouse in 1966. Before the mid-60's there was one senator for each county and there were 32 counties. In 1981, Cibola County was created, making it 33, as several readers reminded us....

Our praise this week of the Sunday brunch at the Hotel Andaluz in downtown ABQ brought some interesting feedback. We start with ABQ attorney Jeff Baker:

How about a column (or part of a column) on restaurant service in Albuquerque? It stinks. Perhaps solicit anecdotes from readers, or comments from Santa Fe, where the service is usually quite good. There has to be a reason why the service in Albuquerque restaurants is so poor-- indifferent wait staff, ignorance about the menu and how the food is prepared, etc. It's not just poor service in the high end restaurants. The problem is across the board. It is not a question of money--inexpensive restaurants in Santa Fe outclass their Albuquerque counterparts.

If people demand quality, they will get quality. If people accept mediocre, they will get mediocre (sort of like the politicians they elect).

That's a good idea, Jeff. Let's see if it generates any email that can help us figure out why our city restaurants slip so badly in the service department. It's not because we don't have hard working waiters and waitresses.

And another reader chimes in:

Joe, I saw your mention of Hotel Andaluz. This item was in the Journal this week. How about equal time?

Okay, you got it:

Mayor Richard Berry and others unveiled a plaque on Monday that designates Hotel Parq Central a city landmark. The hotel was built in 1926 as a railroad hospital and reborn as a boutique hotel last year. Formerly called Memorial Hospital, the property is now Albuquerque’s 21st city landmark.

Hotel Parq Central “is a shining example of what can be done when historic structures are saved from the wrecking ball,” Berry told a news conference. The property, near Interstate 25 and Central Avenue, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mayor Berry is right about that. We did a photo shoot at Hotel Parq Central with ABQ The Magazine after its readers cited us as the "Best in the City." There is a very cool rooftop that overlooks downtown. The photo is in the current issue and, as they say, on newsstands everywhere....

Thanks for stopping by this week.

Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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