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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Bear Is Back: More Layoffs Slam ABQ; Where's Our Leadership? Plus: Cops Gone Wild: Our APD Watcher Has The Latest; Where's Berry? And: Plenty Of Cash But Not Much Of A Senate Campaign Yet 

And you thought the Great Bear Market was history? Not around here. The ABQ economy continues to absorb body blows from the ravaging Bear, with news arriving that Hewlett-Packard in Rio Rancho will lay off 100 employees at its service center. HP Is another of those big corporations that was given millions in taxpayer cash and incentives to open up shop here. But unlike Schott Solar, which announced this month that it is bolting its doors and laying off 250 workers, HP may have to pay a penalty for shedding all those jobs. The company has an agreement with Rio Rancho to employ over 1,300 by the end of the year or pay a penalty. The HP layoffs here are part of national layoffs the company has announced. Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack has been saying the depressed Rio Rancho housing market has seen an uptick because of HP. Now what, Tom?

The lousy HP jobs news comes only days after the aformentioend large loss of jobs at Schott and the demise of 80 positions at health giant Lovelace Hospital.

We're not about to lay blame for the layoffs at the doorstep of Republican Governor Martinez. We just ask her (and ABQ GOP Mayor Berry) where are the jobs? What's the plan? We continue to lose jobs and suffer from anemic tax revenue, but Santa Fe (and the Dem controlled Legislature) seem helpless, if not hopeless. There is simply no "buzz" about the economy here. These private sector layoffs are combining with reduced government employment to flatten the New Mexican economy like a tortilla.

What's a Governor to do? Well, she could start by trying to jack up the large tourist economy with some big dollar promotions (and TV ads produced right here in good 'ol New Mexico.) And she could prepare a major capital outlay bill to pump some life into the moribund construction economy. And she could tell her GOP colleagues in Washington that she is no enemy of federal funds coming in to our enchanted land. There's been nothing but silence from the Fourth Floor on possible cuts to our national defense and energy establishment here. For God's sake, this is a defining moment in the modern economic history of this state. Is anyone out there?

How about fewer ribbon cuttings and and photo ops of our chief executive smiling with third graders. That's campaigning, not governing. Just a thought....

THE BERRY PATCH

PhotobucketAs for Mayor Berry, not only does he face a flat on its belly local economy, but it seems he needs a strong jolt of caffeine or something to break the spell he is under when it comes to the off-the leash-out-of control-answer-to-no one Albuquerque Police Department. Yes, it's that bad. Our corresponent in this matter--retired APD Seargent Dan Klein--comes with a wrap on the latest discouraging developments:

Joe, it's three strikes for APD.

1. A city audit reveals that the retention program, started in 2008, to pay to keep senior officers from retiring is not working. Fifty-eight of these officers did not qualify for the retention payments, but still received them. We are talking thousands of dollars for each officer that they did not qualify for. The program cost nearly $2.5 million over three and a half years.

2.  The city reaches a settlement agreement of $385,000 on the lawsuit alleging excessive force by APD.

3.  The city threatens to file a lien against the property owners of a house APD damaged if the property owners don't fix the damage.

Just how much longer can the keystone cop management at APD be allowed to continue?

Regarding the city audit, APD's response was that it is only a paperwork issue and that this all started under the Marty Chavez administration. Wow. Talk about not caring about being a good steward of the taxpayers money. This response basically shows that APD's administration does not care about our money. So what if 58 officers received thousands of taxpayers dollars they didn't qualify for? It was just a paperwork error and it was Marty Chavez's fault. Well, that just doesn't fly because the Chief back then is the same chief we have now, Ray Schultz.


I can't even begin to discuss another lawsuit, settled or lost, by APD costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Add it to all the others under this Chief's watch and we are well into tens of millions of dollars and counting. But hey, it isn't their money, so no one is held accountable.

Then to make this APD soap opera even more weird, no one in command at APD is held accountable for our money, but APD damages a home in a SWAT standoff and they waste no time in threatening the home owner to get it fixed.  Only in our current administration would this make any sense. Four years of wrongly paying 58 officers (and that only comes to light by a city audit), yet less than 30 days to threaten a home owner to fix damages by APD.

It's the same old story which Mayor Berry seems to enjoy ignoring--no accountability for the poor management at APD. The citizens continue to hemorrhage money in lawsuits and poor administrative policies, yet the Chief and his staff seem to have immunity. Accountability? There is none for the policy makers at APD.

Thanks, Dan. Mayor Berry's long nap over the APD management mess may not be disturbed until our city councilors finally decide they have had enough, or until Berry attracts a strong 2013 re-election opponent or until the US Department of Justice launches an investigation into the long string of fatal police department shootings. That is an investigation that now appears long overdue.

The Albuquerque Police Department appears completely off this Mayor's leash as well as that of Rob Perry, his Chief Administrative Officer. Why do they refuse to act? To lead? We're just asking...

CAMPAIGN CASH

You don't have to worry about the candidates for the open US Senate seat running out of money to bombard you with TV ads this fall. This word today from the camp of Dem Martin Heinrich:

(The campaign has) more than $1.76 million cash-on-hand and $1.41 million raised for the quarter (ending June 30). Heinrich has (brought) in nearly $1.1 million in the last six weeks... Since the beginning of his campaign, Heinrich has raised more than $3.89 million from 8,732 individuals....

As for Republican Heather Wilson she had a similar cash on hand total in mid-May and is not expected to lose ground to her Dem rival.

About the state of the race, it remains uninspired and borderline insipid, as the state is pelted with out-of-state interest group and PAC ads decrying the positions of both Heinrich and Wilson on a variety of national issues. So it goes these days in a campaign system besotted with cash but bereft of any authentic moments. We'll probably have to wait for the fall TV debates for any of those...

UNM WATCH

We have a Senior Alligator monitoring the change of regimes at the University of New Mexico. He writes:

Joe, Today the UNM Regents meet and it will be President Robert Frank's first encounter with them over issues where there may be a difference of opinion.  Regents Jamie Koch and Gene Gallegos drive the agenda of former UNM president Schmidly. We will be watching to see if Frank has coalesced a different majority among the Regents to wrest control from Jamie and Gene....

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