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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On The Trail On ABQ's Nob Hill; What Happened To The Buzz? Plus: Udall Senate Seat News, And: Mary Han Coverage Draws Reader Reports 

What's this? Did Martin Heinrich run out of US Senate signs and have to dip into the nostalgia barrel for when he ran for ABQ City Council back in 2003? Well, probably not, but we did spot this oldie but goodie sign while day tripping recently around the Dona Ana County Dem Party headquarters. A small stack of them were neatly placed against the wall and ready for action.

Hey, you never know. If Heather Wilson ever starts closing in on this Senate race, Heinrich will need all the reinforcements he can get--including signs from yesteryear....

Speaking of Heinrich and the city council, back in the day he represented ABQ's trendy Nob Hill area--when it was booming. New businesses were coming in and the neighborhood had established itself as the retail lifeblood of ABQ. But a recent trek there shows that Nob Hill has fallen on hard times during the unrelenting downturn in the city economy. Maybe it's not hard times caused by the economy as much as it is the landlords asking for big increases in the monthly rent. Whatever the reason, the area is dotted with empty buildings--something that in Heinrich's council years was  unheard of.

The restaurants during the week there are not bustling either. Tables that used to be coveted by the business and academic crowd from UNM go begging during the weekdays and the street scene is muted, with the fashionistas who used to parade so proudly about the area now few and far between.

Business goes on, but it is not good as the city drifts toward an unknown economic future. Nob Hill is a great ABQ success story, but it needs attention and nurturing.

When RJ Berry had his first meeting with Mayor Chavez after he defeated the incumbent in 2009, the two decided to have their first post-election meeting at a Nob Hill restaurant. It was a great way for the two leaders--one Dem and one Republican--to promote the vital area. But we have seen little of that same spirit from City Hall in the intervening years.

A couple of years ago we quoted the poet and author V.B. Price who wondered aloud about who really cares about the soul of Albuquerque. Seeing the vacant buildings at Nob Hill and absorbing the subdued weekday atmosphere, we wondered the same.

NEW CHIEF

Gearing up for a re-election bid in 2014, Dem US Senator Tom Udall will announce this week that his longtime legislative director--Michael Collins--will become his new chief of staff. Tom Nagle, who has held the chief post for a dozen years, going back to when Udall was a congressman, is headed "downtown." That's Washingtonese for lobbying. Collins is a Taos native who also has been with Udall since his days in the House.

UDALL FOE?

We don't know yet who will be running for the GOP nomination for Udall's Senate seat in 2014. Speculation has centered on state Economic Development Director Jon Barela and Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler. But don't take Lt. Governor John Sanchez off the list. Even though he had to fold his tent early when he sought the GOP Senate nod this year against Heather Wilson?

Sanchez recently put out a news releases touting a trip to Germany. Is he trying to get some foreign policy experience on his resume for another Senate run?

Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez will join a bipartisan delegation of  fellow Lieutenant Governors on an international trade mission to Germany. The trip, which runs from September 22 through September 30, is being fully funded by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in cooperation with the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA)...The purpose of the trade mission is to attract German businesses to New Mexico and discover new opportunities for economic development, trade, and tourism.... 

We don't know what kind of German businesses would be interested in setting up shop here, but if Sanchez were successful in persuading one of them to come here, it might help clear up the bitter aftertaste he left with many voters during his ill-fated Senate run this year.

STIMULUS TIME

We blog regularly about what Santa Fe can do to help stimulate the sluggish economy. Reader Norm says just because they don't appear to be listening right now doesn't mean that they won't be soon.
Here's his theory:

They say timing is everything. Spending state funds on infrastructure projects, and thereby lowering unemployment, in 2011 or 2012 would help Obama; spending them in 2013 and 2014 will help Martinez. Be patient--the spigot will be turned on. It's not as if Republicans actually care about fiscal conservatism. When there's an election coming up and it's their turn to explain why they should be re-elected, they all turn into Keynesians. 

Governor Martinez a Keynesian? Look out Republicans. She's got her hand on the spigot!

And Richard Anklam--President and Executive Director of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute--a regular and affable sparring partner of ours over state tax policy--is back today to comment on our comment that the state's tax structure should not bear the brunt of the blame for our inability to attract business.

Our gross receipts tax taxes business inputs too much and “pyramids” (cascades and compounds through the chain of commerce), making New Mexico businesses less competitive...We’ve been talking about that since at least the 80’s but have yet to do much about because it’s expensive and hard. We actually made things worse and moved backwards by narrowing the retail base of our tax and dramatically increasing rates (for instance, Santa Fe’s GRT rate is 34% higher than it was when I moved to Santa Fe in 2003).  It also increasingly creates issues for our national labs and gov’t contracts. 

Our corporate income tax also sticks out like a sore thumb if you compare us with our neighbors, but its true on a national basis too. We’re less competitive there than we’ve been in the past because other states – even California – have made changes while we haven’t. I’m certainly not arguing against taxes as we have real bills to pay, but how you tax matters. Times have changed and we haven’t.  Real reform is difficult but necessary, and can be done over time if we had a real plan.  Of course we can always do nothing but continue to make things worse for a few more decades and see how that works out for us...

Thanks, Richard. You will get no argument from us that the Gross Receipts Tax is a jobs killer. But what do you replace it with? That's been the hang-up. Remember, we slashed personal income tax rates on the wealthy under Big Bill and also kept the capital gains at an historic low. We need to find a way out from under the GRT, but it is like getting thru a complicated maze...

MARY HAN (CONT.)

Our coverage of the 2010 death of noted civil rights attorney Mary Han draws the email. Retired APD Sergeant Paul Heh writes:

 Joe, excellent story about Mary Han. I have to differ with you in one area. APD should be the last agency to investigate her death. The top brass at APD and their tag along public information officer have already trampled the crime scene, a scene they had no business entering and no authority to do so. Now all the cellphones are missing. Is their any question why APD is in the state it is in?  When the top brass acts in such a manner what do they expect from the rank and file?  The cellphones are only the tip of the iceberg. More to come so hold on...

And another emailer comments on the cell phone pictures that were taken of Han by top APD and city officials as she lay dead in her car in her North Valley garage. The pictures taken with those phones are sought by Han's family:

Top APD officials don't get their phones from the property division. The upper echelon order them--phones, I-Pads etc. through another office. Everything acquired is listed as "computer equipment" so it can't be traced easily..."

And retired APD Sergeant Dan Klein, a longtime correspondent of ours on APD matters, comes with this:

Isn't it just a little strange that within a 95 day time period several of the people named in the Han family civil suit all received new cell phones? Banks on  June 1, Adams on June 1, Hoffman on Aug 30 and Paiz on Sept 2.

I would like the department to make public these property cards. This will show the public when each person has received a department cell phone during their entire career...If these folks are getting new phones several times a year, maybe the mayor should save us some money and put a stop to it.  Then again, if they use phones for several years, then there is a big question about these phones being replaced within this 95 day window.

I would think that even though the phones have disappeared the phone records are here forever.  It would be interesting to see if large data files (like videos and photographs) were being sent from these phone numbers and to whom were they being sent to?  This is information that is recoverable, just serve Verizon (I think) with a subpoena for these records.


Why does the community and the elected officials continue to let poor leadership drag APD down?  Will this never end?  Here is an idea, you know NY has the debt clock, how about Albuquerque having a police lawsuit clock?  It could be a marquee on top of City Hall and it would show how many millions of dollars APD Chief Schultz's "leadership" has cost us. 


THE BOTTOM LINES
Here's one for you watchers of the state legislative election action:

The Alameda North Valley Association (ANVA) invites you to attend our next general meeting from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 27 at the Raymond G. Sanchez Community Center located at 9800 4th Street, N.W. The agenda for this meeting will be a forum for the New Mexico State Legislature  candidates for the Alameda/North Valley areas. This is an election year and most of the legislative seats are contested. 

Among the  races is that hot and heavy contest for District 15 State Rep. featuring Dem Emily Kane and Republican Chris Saucedo. Also, the hard fought state Senate battle between incumbent Dem John Sapien and GOP challenger David Doyle. And if that's not enough, how about GOP State Senator John Ryan against independent and former GOP State Senator Joe Carraro.

Somebody stop at Smith's for the popcorn. This forum ought to be better than the Saturday night movies.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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