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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lonesome Dave Not Lonesome; Gets First Visitors Since September Stroke, Plus: Susana's Biz Tax Break Draws Reader Reaction As Does Chief Schultz Blog 

Here's the first public photo of former NM GOP Governor Dave Cargo ('66-70) who was felled by a stroke he suffered in late September. Former ABQ GOP State Rep. and congressional candidate Janice Arnold-Jones visited Cargo over the weekend at the ABQ rehabilitation facility where he is recovering. She was among the first to be able to see Cargo since he was stricken:

"We had a wonderful visit and long conversation. We talked of the state centennial and politics. His 83rd birthday is this Friday and we plan to celebrate," reports Arnold-Jones.

Veteran radio newsman Frank Haley reports visiting Cargo on Monday and described him as "sharp as a tack."

The ex-Guv is using a wheelchair but has use of all his limbs, reports Haley.

Cargo, known for his bipartisanship during his four years as Governor, suffers from paralysis on his left side but as the visitors indicated, he is cogent and lucid. That means this master of the political one liner could have some new material for us very soon.

INTROSPECTIVE SUSANA

One year in and her legislative record is quite skimpy, but Governor Martinez gave a notable quote in her year-end interview that veers away from the rigidness that has hampered her and perhaps opens a new path for her to follow and make some progress:

I don't feel I put in the time I needed to to work with the legislators before the session itself. This coming year, that's what we're working on well in advance, is getting together with legislators and finding where can we compromise early on. I think that's where we were lacking a little bit in the first session.

Hey, that sounds like former GOP Governor Garrey Carruthers and retired GOP Senator Pete Domenici. Have they been whispering in Susana's ear?

If Martinez is serious about making compromises and moving to the center, her governorship could perk up. Her renewed emphasis on education in the interview is also telling. It's a subject on which Dems and R's have been known to find common ground.

There is plenty of room for this Governor to start making moves that might give the Dems heartburn and strengthen her popularity in this centrist state. For example, she has rejected a half a percent pay raise for state employees. How about a compromise that would give that raise to state workers making less than $40,000? And could she somehow work a deal with Senate Majority Leader Sanchez on her measure to hold back third graders who aren't meeting certain standards? That would be a feather in her legislative cap (And Sanchez's, too).

She is insistent on once again gobbling up legislative time over her doomed proposal to repeal driver's licenses for undocumented workers. It's the ultimate wedge issue and one her political advisers will not let her cede any ground on. They will use it against the Dems in this year's election.

But Martinez must sense that if she is to have a substantive term, ultimately she is going to have to move on from the wedge issues and onto the economy and education in a serious way. Independent voters love compromise as much as her party's base loathes it. Her base is nailed down and going nowhere. The independents are like lily pads floating about on the pond.

Her quote about legislative compromise and renewed earnestness in pursuing an education agenda is encouraging, but we learned long ago the wisdom of the old saying: "Watch what they do, not what they say." That's where we're at as this Governor as she begins year two of her four year term.

NOT SO FAST

Our first take on the Guv's plan to eliminate the gross receipts tax (GRT) for businesses that pay less than $200 of the tax a month was positive. The email brought the other side--lots of it: A Santa Fe wall-leaner writes:

How does giving a GRT exemption for a small business whose tax liability is less than $200 a month create jobs? The business would save a couple of hundred or maybe a thousand bucks per year, They're not going to hire someone for that. But the tax cut is a cumulative cost to the state of millions. How many public jobs would that money have created? I'm just curious, because the math never seems to add up to me..

And retired journalist and government advisor Bill Hume weighed in:

Am I missing something? Consider: A GRT liability of $200 a month would imply Taxable receipts of $2,857.14 --or $34,285.68 a year ( at a 7% rate). That entrepreneur ain't creating many jobs at that level of return. He (or she) probably isn't even supporting himself primarily from the business being taxed, given that if he were realizing a 50 percent profit on his gross receipts, he would be living on $17,142.84 a year.

There could be humanitarian (as in liberal Democratic) reasons for alleviating such an entrepreneur's GRT burden--but chances are it would primarily impact individuals and families with more sources of income than just the business being taxed....

And longtime reader Alan Schwartz checked in with this analysis:

I'm not getting this. The GRT is a pass-through to the consumer/purchaser. It's collected by the vendor/seller but imposed over and above the selling/contract price. How does this result in increased income to small business unless they spend more money to advertise "tax-free?" And if their business does increase, does the exemption go away?

And one more. Richard Ellenberg, chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party chimes in:

The discussion of the cost so far seems misleading. Specifically, eliminating gross receipts tax would imply not just the State’s share, but also that of local government, school boards, bond financing, and special districts. If I am reading between the lines correctly, the $34 million estimate for lost revenue does include only the State’s share with no discussion of these other impacts.

They're all very solid arguments and enough for us to go back and do more homework on the plan. But it still seems to us that exempting these small businesses from the GRT would make them more competitive. We'll track this one as it makes its way around the Roundhouse and where its chances of it passing are already seen as few and far between.

THE CHIEF AND ME

The email also came in reacting to the back and forth on Monday's blog between your blogger and ABQ police chief Ray Schultz. Retired APD Seargent Dan Klein, a frequent correspondent on police matters, came with this:

In his response to you he tries to make it about the most recent officer shooting (which appears to be a good shooting), and ignores the civil rights violations lawsuits filed by the public and his own officers against him and the city.

Too bad Ray didn't respond to the lost and settled lawsuits, but what would he say? I think that question needs to be directed at Mayor Berry. Just how many millions in lost taxpayer money due to settled and lost lawsuits is Mayor Berry willing to accept before he says a change at APD is needed? What amount of money would he accept in his private construction company, before he got rid of an employee?

For Ray to point out that because you take advertising dollars from the ABQ Police Officers Association you should rubber stamp everything police related is just plain crazy. What is he thinking? Or it could be this type of mind set is what has cost Albuquerque taxpayers millions?

Joe, I think you have made it very clear to everyone, you will support when the facts say you should support and you will question when the facts say you should question. Millions in lost taxpayer money due to settlements and lost civil cases are facts that must cause someone to question the leadership. The city council and mayor don't seem to question anything, I am glad you are.

Thanks for the comments, Dan. We around here to ask the tough questions, and sometimes we get it right.

From Michael Gomez, we get this email:

Hello Mr. Monahan. I am Mike Gomez, father of Alan Gomez. APD shot and killed him on May 10th, 2011. He was shot in the back. He had just turned 22 yrs old. He was killed in front of his 24 yr old brother. His brother now can't work, has been on meds and going to a doctor. The pain that these fatal police shootings have on the families is never talked about. I have been working with the Martin Luther King group on bringing the Department of Justice to investigate APD. No one in the city government seems to care. I can go on and on, but I would like a chance to rebut what the chief said to you.

Thanks,
Mike Gomez-father of Alan Gomez-Who I miss so much.

This is the real stuff--life and death and our government. The questioning needs to be vigorous and the standards high for the leadership that holds that power. Or at least that's the way it is around this place.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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