Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Paseo Circus At ABQ City Hall, No Ryan Kool-Aid For One R Candidate, A Letter From Deming And Politico Hoyt Clifton Dies 

The ABQ City Hall circus over the rebuild of Paseo del Norte/I-25 interchange continues. Oh, if only Mayor Berry and the nine city councilors had agreed to put Paseo on the ballot as a stand alone measure back in 2011. Instead, they made voters decide on an unwanted sportsplex along with the Paseo and voters rejected both. The mainstream media seems to forget that as they try to place blame for the delay on three Dem councilors who still want $50 million in Paseo bonds approved by the voters.

The attorney general's office says city issues probably can't legally be placed on the November state election ballot, as the council voted to do with Paseo. So why not have the Mayor get a court ruling to see if the AG is right or wrong? Well, that would be too easy. So Berry is looking for a "super majority" of seven councilors to approve Paseo and avoid the need to place it on any ballot. A special September meeting will be held, but so far none of the three Dem councilors have broken ranks and one of them must if there is to be Paseo approval without a public vote.

Berry and this council--dominated by a five to four Republican majority--are to blame for the Paseo mess and for not giving citizens the opportunity for a straight up or down vote in 2011. Now there is talk of a special election that would cost upwards of $750, 000. As much as we would like to see the $50 million in Paseo bonds approved and the work begin, maybe we should wait until October of 2013 and the next city election and let voters have at it then. Why should we give up our right to vote because of the circus at City Hall?  That right is more important than any construction project.

We almost forgot. The conspiracy theory is that Berry and the R's are glad about the AG's ruling because they also do not want a ballot measure increasing the minimum wage to be placed on the November ballot. The theory is that measure would draw more liberal voters to the poll and hurt GOP candidates. Groups backing the wage hike have submitted enough signatures (over 25,000) to get it placed on the ballot. It would raise the minimum wage in the city from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour


Reader Alan Schwartz writes of Intel Rio Rancho's problem in finding enough NM engineers:

Here's a link to some statistical data from NM Higher Education Department. As you can see, only one engineering discipline makes it in the top ten of degrees awarded, and it is last. Other engineering fields obviously rank even lower. Seems to me this is a lose-lose. Not only we don't get the jobs, but what qualified applicants there are here will be moving to Arizona.

Intel is indeed expanding in Arizona and not here, but they tell us the shortage of qualified engineers is a national problem for them.


This one snuck up on us. From a Senior Alligator in Santa Fe:

Joe, For your info, NM has the lowest Internet adoption rate in the country. Seems we are on the very bottom of everything nowadays.

About 71 percent of U.S. households were connected to the Internet in 2010, according to Current Population Survey estimates...But strong divides in Internet access remain, with adoption rates varying widely among different regions and demographic groups. In some rural areas, Internet providers offer limited coverage or slow connection speeds. Many low income Americans also opt not to purchase Internet service, citing cost concerns. Data indicates southern states have the nation's lowest household adoption rates. New Mexico recorded a household adoption rate of 64.1 percent – the lowest of any state, likely explained in part by its high Hispanic and American Indian population, groups typically less likely to connect to the Internet....

We can do better--much better than that--can't we?


Jefferson Byrd
Jeff Byrd is not drinking the Paul Ryan Kool-Aid. The northern GOP congressional hopeful and Tucumcari rancher is campaigning on protecting federal spending for the national labs and defense establishment here, and here's a look:

Northern New Mexico must create new jobs, but we must also fight to protect the good paying jobs we already have. Our “ace in the hole” has always been Los Alamos National Laboratory, Cannon Air Force Base, and our energy industry. Northern New Mexico has lost thousands of jobs in these economic sectors because Congressman Lujan’s ideology gets in the way of fighting for New Mexico jobs and fighting for New Mexico families.

Byrd is the decided underdog in his effort to unseat two term northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, but by subtly breaking with the Republican budget cutters--led by VP nominee Payl Ryan--he will get a listen.


The news from Deming and Luna County is familiar. In our tour of the south this week we stopped in Deming and met with locals over enchiladas at the La Fonda restaurant (It's not as fancy as the La Fonda in Santa Fe, but you do get service with smile and some good red). They told us the lack of jobs continues to pummel the area. They are hoping that a proposed casino by an Oklahoma tribe claiming ancestral rights to land near Deming will be the spark plug they need to get things moving.

The county's jobless rate is the highest in the state--breaching the 20% mark--in part because of the seasonality of agricultural work but also because there isn't much else.

The casino remains stalled, awaiting federal approval and also that of Governor Martinez. Her support will likely be needed, but is not in the bag. Normally, we would agree with the casino foes. The state is already over gambled, but this casino would pick off interstate traffic from I-10. That means much out-of-state money would support it. And, frankly, there are no other big ideas on the map to help out the Deming area.

We didn't hear much talk about Susana there, but there was some grumbling about Dem Senator John Arthur Smith who represents the area and is chairman of the powerful Senate finance committee. The grumblers say he hasn't brought much pork home, despite his Santa Fe power. Smith is opposed by a Republican in November but is expected to win easily.


Readers continue to email in memories of the late Dem US Senator Joe Montoya after we recounted some of our own on the Monday blog. ABQ attorney Robert Levy is one of them:

I want to share a recollection of Joe Montoya in the '76 campaign. I did not know the senator; I had only been a New Mexican for  4 years at the time and I was a Legal Services lawyer. Leaving the courthouse one noon I happened upon a Montoya rally in Civic Plaza. I joined the several hundred folks gathered as the senator was introduced and took the lectern. He pulled his speech out of his inside pocket and, of course started from the top.  He loudly orated, "For immediate release.."   Sadly, it seemed that everyone in the crowd got the  message. Your  work is very much the best Robert D. Levy...

Thanks, Robert. Montoya was not at his best that day and that '76 campaign which he lost to Republican Jack Schmitt was rough on him...


He was the symbol of New Mexico elections for the political insiders for a couple of decades. Former three term NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron reports in that Hoyt Clifton has died:

Joe, I am sad to report the passing of Hoyt Clifton Tuesday night in Lubbock Texas. He suffered a head injury and did not recover.  He was my Elections Director and my friend and mentor during my three terms in office. He taught me everything I knew. Hoyt also served under Secretaries of State Ernestine Evans, Shirley Hooper, Clara Jones and Stephanie Gonzales. He will be missed and never forgotten. There will be grave site services on Monday August 20 at 10:30 am in Melrose, New Mexico.

Thanks for that sad news, Rebecca. We worked with Hoyt often over the years. He had a slow drawl as well as a slow draw. When we we were all rattled, he was cool. He was with the secretary of state's office for 25 years, 15 of them as elections chief before retiring in 1994. It was a job well done.

Denise Lamb, who came after Hoyt as elections bureau chief emailed us this remembrance:

I started working with Hoyt in 1991 as a legislative analyst for the office and he taught me quite a bit about looking at election bills.  He told me once, “Honey, looking at an election bill is just like peeling an onion.  The closer you get to the center, the more you cry and the stronger it smells”.

He also gave me an invaluable piece of advice:  “Never lie to your boss, the legislature or the press.”

Hoyt had the respect and confidence of the legislature, the council service and the many, many people who worked with him over the years.  He will be terribly missed by many county clerks who worked with him over his long tenure at the state and I will miss him terribly.

Thanks, Denise.


That's quite the pic of an August sunrise taken by one of our readers.  We spent the start of the week in Las Cruces, Silver City and Deming where the warm summer air--even in the early morning hours--reminds you that this season is not quite ready to let go.

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