Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spaceport Deal Surfaces But Gravity Still Tugs At It, Plus: More ABQ Layoffs, Stu Ingle's Horse Shit And The Latest DC Action 

Pessimists will argue that the NM Spaceport has lost too much momentum   and that a compromise hammered out with the New Mexico Trial lawyers Association and endorsed by Virgin Galactic, the main player in the Spaceport, is too little too late. But failure to pass an informed consent bill would be tantamount to killing the project and the promise it offers to create good jobs for the future. If passed and sent to the Governor it buys us time.

The Senate Dem leadership announced the deal and the Governor indicated she is on board, but she is not jumping up and down. Senate GOP Leader Stu Ingle is going to be one of the bill's sponsors.

But this liability bill should have been passed two years ago. Since then we've been leapfrogged by other states. The Spaceport biz is much more competitive and our first starter advantage seems to have been lost.

Governor Martinez backed away from the Spaceport in her first two years. This year she put the ball in the Legislature's court, telling them to pass this liability bill. Now that they are headed that way, it will be up to her to fill the Spaceport with tenants in the next year and keep Virgin fully committed.

When this bill goes to her desk, the Spaceport ball will be back in Susana's court, but it should never have left there in the first place.


While Santa Fe was in one if its self-congratulatory moods over that Spaceport deal, our Senior Alligators were back on the beat reporting of new job losses in ABQ--the kind of scientific jobs the Spaceport might some day provide.

We're told that defense contractor SAIC has been laying off employees--dozens of them--in what would be yet another blow to ABQ's ailing economy.

News broke in December that the defense giant was laying off some 700 employees nationally. We're guessing that the ABQ layoffs are part of that mix.


We've probably written thousands of words on how Santa Fe is somewhat of a dead zone, that the 60 day session of the Legislature began as a small potatoes affair conducted in the middle of big issues impacting the state's people. It turns out we could have saved ourselves a lot of time if we had just phoned over to State Senate Minority Leader Stu Ingle and asked him for his take. He blurted out this week that the committees he serves on are "the same old horse shit." 

There was a mini uproar in the meeting where Ingle uttered his expletive. Senators there even asked the press to keep the comment "off the record." But what for? Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico can smell the stuff Stu is talking about as it emanates from the Roundhouse and hovers over them like a toxic cloud.
The state is in an historic jobs and construction depression, office vacancy rates soar and we continue to make the Not So Greatest Hits List in every conceivable category of social progress. That would be education, poverty, literacy etc. etc. (You know, the same old horse shit).

But the administration, key Senate Dem leaders and the Senate Republicans that Ingle leads offer us a few baby steps but little else.

Senator Ingle has been in Santa Fe since 1985. He is probably tired. For sure, he is frustrated--an emotion he shares with so many of us out here in the bleacher seats. 

Santa Fe is no longer fun. And now, as Senator Ingle informs us, it even smells. Like horse shit. 


House Speaker Ken Martinez and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez told a tele-town hall audience of state Dems last night that they will be coming with a "jobs package" this 60 day session.
That's the big picture so sorely lacking in Santa Fe. The Governor has offered a non-starter, pinning economic revival hopes on more tax cuts. 

Sanchez and Martinez need to come with what Susana promised--some bold change. Otherwise, we'll all be trotting out Stu Ingle's line about horse manure.


The legislative excrement known as the debate over driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants may finally be coming to an end. We hit it Monday when we blogged that our Alligators smelled compromise in the air (along with that other stuff Ingle mentioned).

Say what you will about Susana, she knows how to read election results. The public is on the verge of getting sick of a do-nothing legislative record. This news from her office on the proposed license compromise from Senators Ingle and Smith says it all:

The Governor has been) in conversations with Sen. Ingle and Sen. Smith on this issue and will continue working with them to outline a sound way forward to resolve this issue...

That seems to be the cue for the hard-right to sign up for compromise class. It will be fun to watch the "Repeal or Die" crowd fold their hand. That would include talk radio and the editorial pages of the state's big newspaper. But when Susana and Jay give the order, the order is taken.

Regardless of how cynical the Guv has been in using this an emotional wedge issue for over two long years, it will be a godsend to have it go away. The state is strangling economically and the debate over its future has been strangled by non issues like this one.


Reaction to our Tuesday blog on how ABQ GOP Mayor Berry appears to be well-liked as he nears a re-election bid. From the Dem side:

The news reported over the weekend that Mayor Berry was "on the fence" about the president's gun violence legislation. That's leadership...apparently you can ride the fence to reelection. 

And Dem political consultant James Hallinan weighs in:

Maybe I'll run Mayor of Albuquerque so someone starts taking the Mayor to task for failing our city on jobs, guns and crime.


Now that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced he will soon retire, Dem US Senator Tom Udall gets a predictable mention as a possible replacement for Salazar in the president's cabinet. Tom's father, Stewart Udall, headed up Interior under President Kennedy.

Former ABQ GOP Congressman Manuel Lujan served as Interior Secretary from 1989 to '93  in the first Bush administration. Albert Fall of New Mexico held the post in the 20's. His reign led to the notorious Teapot Dome scandal.

DC watchers give Tom little chance of leaving the Senate. They point out that GOP Governor Martinez would appoint a replacement who would run in the 2014 election--an election for which Udall has already announced.

But what if the long shot happened and Udall left. Who would Susana appoint to the Senate? Herself? Heather Wilson?

Settle down, Lt. Governor John Sanchez. Your chances of getting a US Senate appointment from the Guv would be about as good as the chances of Susana missing an episode of CSI. (Same for you, Steve Pearce)

If Udall did leave, the Dems would have no shortage of candidates to take his place. Think US Reps Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan...

Also on the DC beat, ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announces she was named to two subcommittees on the Agriculture Committee for the 113th Congress.

She will serve on the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight and Nutrition and the Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit....

And southern GOP Congressman Steve Pearce is softening his rhetoric some in the wake of the controversy he set off when he said unemployed New Mexicans really don't want to work and that recipients of government assistance ought to undergo drug tests. From his latest newsletter:

Despite the challenges we face, I am confident that by working together, we can overcome them all.  Republican, Democrat, or Independent, we can all agree that the hardworking people of our state need jobs.  By implementing simple, commonsense policies that will allow our small businesses to succeed, we can give our middle class the opportunity to flourish.

We covered the Pearce harangue about the jobless on Monday's blog.

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