Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Why Politicos Aren't Shouting Over Lower Jobless Rate, Plus: Shouts Of "Show Us The Prez" At UNM, And: Just What The APD Doesn't Need 

The politicians around here are wary of shouting "hallelujah" over the latest unemployment stats, even though the rate continues to go down. What is also going down and making the jobless numbers look better is the fewer number of people going to work. For example, the state says the four counties making up the ABQ metro had about 374,000 employees in Oct. 2010. Flash forward to Oct. 2011 and the number of employed drops to 372,000. And that explains in part how you go from a metro jobless rate of 8.8 percent a year ago to the 7.0 percent today.

If the politicos start talking up the decreased jobless rate these numbers are going to be thrown back at them, not to mention the anemic growth rate of tax collections, another good indicator of how the economy is really doing,

This is especially tricky for Governor Martinez. She would like to take credit for a statewide jobless rate that was at 8.8 percent a year ago and has since dropped to 6.6%. But then she would have to explain why so many unemployed have given up or left the state. In fact, her own NM Republican Party came with a missive decrying the recent drop in the national jobless rate, citing the shrinking work force--not real jobs gains--as the main reason for the national decline.


The construction Depression continues to carve a devastating path through the metro. The latest:

Commercial construction is an endangered species in the city, while home building is at the level of 1991.

Former Mayor Marty Chavez often describes ABQ as the driver of the state's economy. Well, right now it's been driven into a ditch. The oil and gas fields are carrying the state.Why won't Santa Fe give us a tow and come with a meaningful capital outlay plan to spark a recovery here?

The claim that the state does not have the bonding capacity isn't ringing true. ABQ Dem Senator Tim Keller pinpointed some $700 million in available capital outlay when speaking the other night at a fund-raiser. Maybe he can get fellow Dem Senators like John Arthur Smith and John Sapien behind closed doors and convince them of the need.

If the Dems remain divided on a jobs bill Governor Martinez has yet another opportunity to get ahead of them if she comes with a nice, fat capital outlay bill in the January legislative session (She outflanked the Dems on this issue in this year's special session). But it would be more important than politics, it would start putting working people back to work. The "free market" needs a booster shot, Guv.


Despite the grinding bear market that has set Santa Fe back, the City Different still has some tourism mojo:

Santa Fe was rated the "Most Artistic City in America," in a feature article published in The Atlantic this week.

That's yet another reason Tourism Secretary Monica Jacobson needs to reexamine her tightwad ways when it comes to promoting the state. She is sticking by a $2.5 million advertising budget. What happened to spending money to make money?


We're getting closer to leaving behind the troubled stewardship of UNM President David Schmidly. Five finalists have been named as the search for his replacement goes forward. None of them hails from New Mexico.

It will be interesting to see if Governor Martinez plays in the presidential picking game. Big Bill
did so and it turned out for the worse, with the campus administration become highly politicized.

One of the candidates, Elsa Murano, a former president of Texas A& M, has some similarity to Martinez. Both are Hispanic women from Texas.


UNM has a chance to turn over a new leaf now that President David Schmidly will end a troubled tenure and exit next year, but they don't quite seem to get it. The news:

University of New Mexico officials hope to have their presidential search finalists visit campus before students leave for the holiday break Dec. 17. But that means all five candidates will make their appearances amid students’ final days of classes and end-of-semester exams over the next two weeks.

And a UNM professor emails us:

Alligators are wondering why UNM wants to conduct its presidential search effectively behind closed doors by bringing candidates to campus when neither students, faculty nor staff will be able to participate. They keep saying that they will drum up participation. Do they mean they will bring out people who support only their point of view? Why this indecent haste?

Faculty staff, students and the surrounding communities sense another rat that is going to profit monetarily from New Mexico coffers again just like Schmidly. Regents should be forced to postpone interviews until the semester is well underway.

Governor if you want your administration associated with transparency then you should step in!


ABQ attorney Diane Albert emails us with the popular take on this new APD cruiser that could end up patrolling city streets:

What kind of message is the Chief sending here? This proposed cruiser looks like something out of Mad Max! The dept is under a Department of Justice cloud and picking this kind of dark, scary model reinforces the violent and dark image of APD I much prefer the white model!

We hear you, Diane. And we note that in one of his cartoons the ABQ Journal's John Trever also asked if this is really a good time for APD to start looking more aggressive.


The Legislature couldn't do it, but the court can and will. The first formal wrangling over redistricting the state's political boundaries for congress and the Legislature (among others) is underway.


Former Governor Bill Richardson on Monday announced the death of his mother on his Facebook page:

Maria Luisa Lopez Collada, 97, passed away peacefully today in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She was surrounded by family, including her son, Governor Bill Richardson and his wife, Barbara Richardson; and her daughter Dr. Vesta Richardson.

I recall meeting her on the campaign trail once--either in '80 when Bill ran against Rep. Manuel Lujan in ABQ and lost narrowly, or in '82 when he ran and won the newly created northern congressional seat. She had a stately and graceful manner--an aristocratic look, if you will. She was like any other mother as she watched her son in action. She sported a broad closed-mouth smile and a twinkle in her eye.

Her financial backing of her son was critical to the great political success he had and became a campaign issue those many years ago.

In what could be called sadly ironic, the New York Times reported this week that a former advisor to Richardson said a Federal grand jury in ABQ was looking into allegations that a state worker who allegedly had an affair with Richardson was paid $250,000 in hush money. The Times' source said that Richardson’s lawyers entered into a confidential settlement with the woman for $250,000 and that a person familiar with but not connected to the investigation said the money was believed to have been wired to the woman’s lawyer from a bank in Mexico. Whether presidential campaign laws were violated is the open question.

And so it goes...

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