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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jobs Recession Lurks As Mayor Gives State of City, Plus: Catching The Redeye To NYC, A New US Attorney Coming, And: How About A Choclatier Governor? 

Mayor Berry
ABQ GOP Mayor RJ Berry has presided over the worst recession and resultant loss of jobs in the city's modern history, so with his 2013 re-election bid staring him in the face it was no surprise to find the Mayor working  to shore up his economic bona fides in his annual State of the City address Wednesday.

In a bit of irony, Berry announced that $5 million clawed back to city coffers from a solar company that went bust using city incentives could be reinvested in economic development, including expanded marketing programs and workforce development programs. The City Council would have to approve.

The mayor did mention the elephant in the room--the loss of government jobs at all levels and the threat of losing more of them if federal spending is cut. He says we must protect them. But what about a more specific action plan to influence DC? (Complete transcript here.)

Any incumbent would be vulnerable for re-election considering the state of the city's economy, but Berry has been blessed with one of the quietest city councils ever, a mainstream media that is solidly in his corner, and a Democratic opposition (when there is one) that is ineffective--to put it politely.

It will be up to his Dem opponents to start making the contrast and point out the potholes of his administration--including the controversy-marred police department. As of now there are no official candidates in the race to replace him.

TO THE CITY

The Mayor also announced in his speech Wednesday that Jet Blue Airlines will begin nonstop flights from ABQ to New York City's JFK. The last nonstop flights from ABQ to NYC were in 2008.

That's good news for the city and it needs it. But don't get your Big Apple tee shirt out yet. Jet Blue is only going to offer one flight a day to NYC--and it will depart at Midnight. Well, it's right on time for the freshest bagels in New York, but maybe not for a biz meeting right away...Meanwhile,

Look at the decline in international air travel we've had from the Sunport:

In Albuquerque the flow of international travel decreased 11.5 percent between 2003 and 2011. In 2003, Albuquerque had 219,233 international passengers departing and arriving at the Albuquerque International Sunport. In 2011 that number dropped to 194,035.

Berry could have his hands full defending his economic record next year if tough opponents emerge, but we don't think they'll be attacking him for the city's management of the Sunport. The place is nearly spotless each time we visit, the staff is helpful, parking is ample and the permanent artwork is sensational. It is a fitting gateway to visitors to the Land of Enchantment and the maintenance staff and management of the facility win a hat tip for their dedication.

HAVE A BALL

Michael Mendoza of Washington, D.C. writes:

Hi Joe, I am the President of the NM State Society of Washington DC and a Las Cruces native who lives in the DC area. I am an active reader of your blog and appreciate being able to stay connected to things going on back home.

Our big event every 4 years is an Inaugural Ball, which we will be having on Saturday, January 19th at the Carnegie Institute of Science in Washington DC.  We are ironing out a few details of the event but general information can be found here.

Sounds like fun, Michael. Do you think one of those super PAC has some leftover cash we could use to get out there?

MARTIN AND HARRY

Keeping it in DC, here's the first pic of  Dem NM Senator-elect Martin Heinrich with Senate Majority leader Harry Reid. Other incoming freshmen are also pictured with the Dem leader.

Heinrich told us election night he will try to win a spot on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a panel important to defense funding in the state.

For you history buffs, Heinrich takes over from Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman what is known as "the Catron Seat," so named because the seat was first held, in 1912, by Thomas Catron, a Republican who at one time was the largest land owner in New Mexico.

Democrat Tom Udall, himself only a freshman like Heinrich, becomes the state's senior Senator in January when Bingaman departs. The state's seniority is at a low ebb, but there is a Dem in the White House to match our two Dem Senators. That might help when the budget axe starts getting thrown around again.

WHO'S NEXT?

As senior Senator Udall is going to have a lot to say about who the next US Attorney will be for New Mexico. Yes, we're going to need one. The news:

 U.S. Senators  Bingaman and Udall applauded President Obama‚Äôs nomination of Kenneth Gonzales to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. He would replace long-time U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce D. Black, who retired in October. Gonzales currently serves as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico.  Prior to his appointment, he served for more than ten years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in both the Las Cruces and Albuquerque branches.  

You know the US attorney's office--the one that was going to indict Big Bill for the last five years but never did. Send us your nominations. Hey, how about ABQ attorney Pete Dinelli trying for it again? He was among those applying when Gonzales was selected. He says he is mulling over a '13 bid for Mayor, but US Attorney is a powerful post.

A CHOCOLATIER GUV?

How about a chocolatier on the Fourth Floor? The place would be a lot sweeter we suppose with bowls of candy handy for visitors. Well, Chuck Higgins, who owns a Santa Fe candy store, says he is toying with the idea of a Dem Guv run. His website has more info on him. You can file this potential candidacy under "G" for gadfly, but Santa Fe over the years has produced a number of entertaining politicos. Also, we keep thinking about the hot chocolate we had in Paris earlier this year. If Chuck can cook up a batch equal to that, he might get more support than we think.

BLACK HELICOPTER TIME

Warm up the black helicopters because we're taking a spin and our passenger is Governor Martinez deputy chief of staff Ryan Cangiolosi, soon to be the $125,000 executive projects director at the University of New Mexico Hospital. It's a brand new position created just for...well...we'll hold back on that. To the helipad fellow conspirators!:

Joe, UNMH has been trying desperately to get approval to build a new 90 bed hospital at a cost of $146 million - money that comes from surplus property tax dollars. UNMH's difficulty moving forward stems from questions of a) is there an actual need for (another) expansion of UNMH and, b) could the $146 million be used more effectively or even returned to property tax payers as a refund? Apparently the Board of Finance is concerned too because they voted the UNMH proposal down last week on a 3-2 vote. Within no time, however, UNMH made the decision to hire Ryan Cangioloisi - the Governor's assistant chief of staff - into a brand new $125,000 a year job.  Now, having just been voted down, the UNMH proposal is back on the Board of Finance agenda for Nov. 26.  Cangiolosi's first day at his new job is Nov. 19 - a week before the potential re-vote.

Maybe all of this is coincidence but anyone remotely familiar with La Politica knows that coincidences like these tend to be thought out well ahead of time...


Coincidence? Well, maybe. But that's no fun. Okay, the copters are running low on fuel, set them down. Yeah, over there in Area 51.

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