Monday, April 02, 2012

Recovery? Still Doesn't Feel Like It, Plus: Campaign Trail Report, More On Susana & Obama, And: Where's Justice? 

It sure doesn't feel like much of a recovery in the state's largest metro. That's because it isn't. The state puts the ABQ area jobless rate at 8.2%. That's actually up from 8.1% from last February. The city budget unveiled Friday by Mayor Berry shows hardly any growth, reflecting anemic tax collections. The median price for a house in ABQ has plunged to near $161,000, down from over $200,000 during the frothy days of the late great bull market. The metro area (Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties) is stalled out. The worst of the recession may have passed, but the recovery is not taking much of a hold here because government at all levels has retrenched--and that's a primary  employer around here. As we've noted repeatedly, nothing much in the way of business is coming into the city. We are flat.

Mayor Berry did not mention any of this in his upbeat budget unveiling Friday. He noted with relief that there will be no tax increases or more layoffs of city workers. What he did not talk about is when we can expect more robust economic activity and more tax collections because of it.

That the economy here has stopped dropping like a broken elevator is good, but what's next for ABQ and environs? The same can be asked of the state as a whole. The growth engines of the metro area's past---booming  housing construction, expanding government employment and a growing  retail sector are idled. We are muddling along. But that's not going to be enough to keep your kids or grandkids hanging around. 

The quality of life in ABQ remains the draw. Breathtaking scenery, pretty good weather, not much in the way of traffic compared to larger cities, cultural diversity, a bustling artistic and creative scene and much, much more makes ABQ one of America's truly livable cities. It's the generally low-wage economy for the many in the nonprofessional classes and a lack of good jobs overall that has been and remains the problem.


Action on two state Senate races now where the winner of the Dem nomination takes the prize because the R's have not fielded candidates in the heavy Dem districts. Over on ABQ's west side,  Carlos Villanueva filed a court challenge to the petition signatures of 25 year old Jacob Candelaria, director of Equality NM, who is attempting to become the first openly gay man to serve in the Senate (although he is not making it an issue). If he can get past Villanueva's petition challenge, observers in the district say his chances for a win look good. He will be better financed than Carlos.

The race to replace longtime Dem State Senator Dede Feldman is getting more  clarified. Attorney Laura Sanchez has dropped out of the race after only  a few weeks of campaigning, and that would seem to further cement State  Rep. Bill O'Neill as the favorite to take the Dem nomination and thus  the Feldman slot in the Senate. No R is running. Some of the House district O'Neill is giving up is in the Senate district. Also, he will  likely be the best financed of the three contenders that remain in the  ABQ North Valley area district. The other two candidates are Carlos Cordova and Chris Catcheis.


We  are hearing that ABQ US House candidate Marty Chavez has cut his first  round of campaign commercials and that they will soon hit the airwaves.  Will they take a hit on his rival, State Sen. Eric Griego? Marty is starting to jab at Eric who took the front-runner position by posting a win at the March preprimary  convention. We ran some of those hits last week and the Griego came with this in response:

Griego's campaign is gaining momentum because voters know he is  the real deal,  the one strong Democrat in this race who will fight for our  values--never giving in to the Republican plan to cut Medicare benefits, never giving in to the big corporations that want to pollute our environment, and finally putting the Wall Street crooks who wrecked  our economy in jail. It's no wonder his opponents are attacking him. They can't compete on the issues.

And let's not forget about Michelle Lujan Grisham. Eric Griego isn't. He just sent out  an endorsement letter from two prominent women politicos--State Sen.  Dede Feldman and State. Rep. Mimi Stewart.


More today on Susana making nice with President Obama on his recent NM visit. This take comes from Michael Corwin of Independent Source PAC, a frequent critic of the Guv, but he puts on his analyst's hat for this one:

Martinez is using her photo op with Obama for the VP spot. Romney has had to run so far to the right that he has lost the middle. Martinez, who has a greater chance of being tapped than is given credit. Republicans see her as a female, Latina and since they are in trouble with both, she fits the bill. She will use the embrace of Obama to portray herself as a "moderate" by GOP standards (though she is not). She will be the female, Latina, moderate that goes state-by-state like a good soldier to try to save the election from the damage to her party from the primary. In return, Martinez gets three months of national spotlight and a chance to debate Biden for a Presidential run in 2016....

"President Martinez??" Okay, folks, you saw it here first.

Corwin may see Martinez as a serious contender for VP, but the WaPo's Chris Cilizza believes history shows that Romney will pick someone perceived as a true-blue conservative like Florida Senator Marc Rubio, a tea party darling, or New Jersey Guv Chris Christie.


Some things never change in politics. And that's a good thing. From the email:

My dad is running as a Republican for NM State Senate District 7 (the east side seat being vacated by Sen. Clint Harden) He turned in his petitions with 505 signatures. His grassroots base is strong with many, many local  families backing him. Check out his website. He's  in it to win it. This is a race to watch. (Pat Woods is running for the Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Clint Harden.)

And that's one reason why after all these years that more often than not we still like this game of ours.


An Alligator writes of the woes at the ABQ police department and the police union:

You  know if Mayor Berry wanted to look like he was in control of this train  wreck he would announce an immediate nationwide search for a new police  chief.  Retire Ray Schultz immediately and name an interim chief until a  replacement is named. Then if the APOA (police union) audit shows  criminal wrongdoing, use that as a reason to decertify the APOA and  start the process to recreate the APOA but under better safeguards and  guidelines.That would be real leadership.  That would be a new  leadership for both APD and the APOA, they both need it.


Maybe  the 20 fatal police shootings in the past two years in ABQ deserve an  outside investigation by the Department of Justice or maybe they don't. But  how about a decision? The department has months to weight whether they  will get involved, but we sense foot-dragging in Washington. And there shouldn't be. What's the hold-up, Attorney General Holder?

And  it's not just the police probe that makes Justice look like a sick snail. How about the never-ending apparent federal investigation of  former Governor Bill Richardson? When does that end? It makes you wonder if Justice does start a probe of the police shootings if it would ever conclude.


A  couple of clean-up items. A number of early morning readers on Friday  saw a photo that we said was that of state Senate candidate Carlos Villanueva. It wasn't and we replaced it....

We also said that ABQ City Councilor Debbie O'Malley is Hispanic. She is, but there is more to it as she explains:

A technical correction for the  record: My maiden name is Smith, my Mom’s maiden name is Romero. My Dad  is part Hispanic (Montoya). Their first language was Spanish, so I  grew up in a bi-lingual household—not uncommon growing up in the North  Valley. 

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