Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: Getting The Tourists Back, More Wilson Vs. Sowards, And: Santa Fe Zeitgeist; Political Positioning, But Not Much Else 

State tourism efforts to attract out-of-state visitors have been less than aggressive--to put it mildly--but there's an example for the Santa Fe bureaucrats right in their own backyard of how to get the tourists back here and emptying their wallets in the process:

About 330,000 Texans in the more affluent parts of Dallas and Houston will get a 24-page tabloid promoting Santa Fe as a tourist destination in their newspaper on Easter Sunday, April 8. RSVP Santa Fe is a joint production of the city of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe New Mexican aimed at advertising the city's hotels, restaurants, art galleries and special events to its biggest tourism market. The total press run of 350,000 full-color supplements is the largest in the history of The New Mexican and the first time the newspaper has partnered with city government on such a project. 

More tourism means more employment and dollars for businesses already established in the state. They don't need complicated tax breaks or other incentives. They just need customers. Governor Martinez and Tourism Secretary Jacoboson could easily get an increase in the state promotional budget from the Legislature, but they aren't asking.

The tourism situation in Santa Fe is dire, with all kinds of businesses closing or suffering from weak bottom lines because of the marked decline in visitors during this ongoing bear market. If the state waits too long to move, the decline in tourism could become permanent. What's that old saying? "Out of sight, out of mind."


Soon after we posted the above the story over a casting call for "light skinned Hispanics" to appear in state tourism TV spots went viral on the Net:  

First, the Tourism Department touched some local nerves by hiring a Texas firm to produce its new branding campaign. That firm chose a California producer rather than someone in New Mexico's film industry to shoot the spot. And on Friday, traditional and social media was abuzz over the ad's "real people" casting notice, which called for Caucasian or "light-skinned" Hispanics to star in the spot.


The race for the GOP Senate nod goes on the national stage as state R's gear up for their Saturday preprimary convention in ABQ:

Saturday's pre-primary state Republican convention is former Rep. Heather Wilson's next big test in the New Mexico Senate race. Wilson, who has run a steady campaign so far, received some good news last month when the struggling campaign of GOP Lt. Gov. John Sanchez folded. She received some even better news on Thursday when Sanchez endorsed her.

But the timing of Sanchez's endorsement is no coincidence. Wilson's contending with longshot conservative Greg Sowards in what has been a nasty back-and-forth in the run-up to the convention. She's hoping to unite enough support behind her campaign at the meeting to render Sowards a non-factor...

Will Sowards get the 20% of delegate support that he needs to win an official spot on the June 5 primary ballot? Predictions are all over the map.


In her latest dispatch syndicated columnist Sherry Robinson pretty much nails the current political zeitgeist in Santa F:

The governor’s dukes-up, in-your-face style and her pointed comments make good sound bites for a political ad, but they also invite scrutiny, and the scrutiny is rarely flattering. And they antagonize the Legislature and pretty much guarantee that she’s not going to get much accomplished.
There’s an old saying that you can’t shake hands with your fist clenched. The governor, halfway through her term, still hasn’t unclenched her fist.

And that's what you get when the political consultants are allowed to run not just the campaign--but also the government.  Don't say we (and Sherry) didn't tell you.

Along those lines, why is the Guv wasting her time poking the legislators over their modest pension plan? (They get about a $1000 a year for each year of service. It costs taxpayers about $2.4 million  a year lawmakers get no salaries). Martinez says she supports a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to kill the program. But it's not going to happen because for obvious reasons the Legislature will not approve sending such an amendment to voters.

How about if the Governor negotiated with the Legislature to further increase the amount they must contribute to finance the pension program thus saving taxpayers some expense? Well, that would not make for a headline showing the Guv standing up to the big, bad Legislature,

Here's the difference. When you are engaged in the real act of governing, the headline reads: "Guv and Legislature Enact Law Increasing Lawmakers' Contributions To Their Pension Plan." When the political consultants on the "Fifth Floor" are writing the script you get the one that recently ran: "Governor Wants Ban On Pensions for Legislators."

What great potential there is for this governorship. How sad to see it pinned down in the name of punitiveness and the popularity polls.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Thanks for checking in here. Reporting this week from southern Colorado and Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)   

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