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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Running For Mayor: No Walk In Park These Days, Plus: Foggy Outlook In City Of Vision, And: Reader Ideas On Sparking Economy Here 

Way back in the political paleolithic age we once had over 30 candidates running for mayor of ABQ (1974) but the days of rowdy, crowded mayoral campaigns are long gone. No wonder. Look at what you have to do to qualify for the public financing that serious candidates need to compete. From one of our campaign watchers:

A candidate for Mayor who wants public financing must collect $5 donations from 3,500 Albuquerque registered voters and a candidate can only collect the donations from February 16 to March 31, 2013, which is a very tight time frame. (The city clerk will be giving the exact number, but it is at least 3,500). The $5 donations are donations to the city, not the candidate, and the city will issue receipts books. If a candidate is successful in collecting the $5 donations, the city gives you approximately $330,000 to finance your campaign. 

If you guessed that Mr. and Mrs. ABQ are not rushing out to give needy politicians five bucks, you guessed right. 

Some are saying we need to revisit the campaign rules--that they are too onerous and discourage candidates. In 2009 three candidates made the ballot and qualified for public financing.

Attorney Pete Dinelli is the only officially announced candidate in this year's race.

City politics watchers await word from former Dem. Lt. Governor Diane Denish on a possible run as well as an official announcement from GOP Mayor Richard Berry that he is going for a second term. Insiders say City Councilor Ken Sanchez won't run,  but when we originally posted that he called to say he is still weighing a bid. Investment banker Mark Valenzuela says he is weighing a run. Insiders say if Denish goes in, Valenzuela stays out.

GARCIA LAWSUIT?

One of our Alligators wonders if former UNM President Chris Garcia who won a NM Supreme Court ruling Wednesday in a prostitution case that shocked the city and state will now look at suing the ABQ police department:

I would expect to see a large, very large lawsuit coming toward APD as Chris Garcia is going to want lots of money for being defamed.  Does Albuquerque even have anymore money to pay these lawsuits?  Will anyone involved be held accountable for our money?  

The AP reported:

The NM Supreme Court dealt a blow to the prosecution's case against two aging college professors accused of helping run an online prostitution ring, and denied a request to overturn a lower court's ruling that nothing in state law made the website illegal.

IDEA FACTORY


ABQ attorney Jeff Baker suggested on the blog this week that we get some concrete ideas from our readers on how to put some life into the moribund economy around here. We do that quite a bit already, but Jeff's note brought some new responses. Here's a couple from reader Jim McClure:

We probably have more artists and galleries per capita than anywhere. The state can grow this industry further by promoting art tourism, organizing art events and building New Mexico's artistic reputation internationally. If more artists and would-be artists move here it will be worth seeing more bad paintings of the Sanctuary at Chimayo.

Also, make New Mexico even more gay-friendly. Sounds goofy, but when my hometown of Oak Park, IL, got a reputation as a gay-friendly community we saw an influx of DINKs (double income, no kids) who bought upscale homes and started businesses. Legalizing gay marriage could be an economic plus for New Mexico.

Thanks, Jim. Good line there about the bad paintings of the Santuario de Chimayo.

VISION FOGGY

Rio Rancho calls itself the 'city of vision," but the economic outlook for the ABQ suburb of 89,000 is increasingly foggy. What a difference from five years ago when the place was booming and we and others wondered if ABQ would be bypassed by the dynamic growth. But now Rio Rancho--like ABQ is flat on it's back--perhaps more so. The news:

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/02/05/4601667/nm-nevada-govs-head-gop-latino.html#storylink=cpy

This fiscal year to date, the gross receipts tax revenue is 4.1 percent lower than last year.
Construction revenues contributed most to the decline between this January and last, according to Padilla-Jackson’s report. That sector had a 40 percent lower gross receipts payment this January than in 2012.

It's going to be interesting to see the population growth numbers for Rio Rancho going forward. It has been one of the fastest growing cities in the USA. But with the construction crash, Intel not expanding and the loss of jobs at Hewlett Packard and the like, don't be surprised if we see Rio Rancho with zero growth or even losing population. Unprecedented, but possible.

MORE IDEA FACTORY

Back to the blog idea factory and veteran New Mexico lobbyist Dan Weaks:

The federal government needs to transfer title to federal lands it controls in New Mexico. Over 43% of lands within NM boundaries are owned or controlled by the federal government. So here’s the deal.

Make the feds give us the land (or at least most of  it) that they now hold and are making money off. Let the Legislature create a “secondary permanent fund” that would function like our present severance tax fund (part to the corpus, part to the bond  fund). Then add a component to fund economic development and educational initiatives. The latter component could be subject to annual appropriation by the Legislature.

With this new source  of funds there would be no need to try and "raid" the original permanent fund or the severance tax permanent fund. This kind of deal would have broad based support among various conservative groups--ranchers, energy states rights and social and business advocacy groups.

Western states have been getting screwed by the feds forever in terms of land ownership and controls. Time to give it up and let us control and manage our resources. We are all grown up now! We even have a good resource manager in the form of a State Land Office.  Let’s think out of the box for a change! And, what an opportunity for  our young congressional delegation to make a mark. Look for this to surface in this session of the Legislature.

Appreciate that, Dan. Have not heard much about this yet in the legislative session, but it sure is a good conversation starter.

(A reader writes after seeing this: "There is such a bill in the Legislature this year. It is HB 292-- "Transfer of Public Lands Act"--introduced by Rep. Yvette Herrell and Sen. Richard Martinez. 

Another reader writes:

Land Commissioner Powell has been talking about this concept for awhile.First hearing is Friday morning.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Gilbert Gallegos made headlines when he applied for unemployment benefits when Governor Big Bill left office and Gilbert's job as communications director ended. But all's well that ends well. From ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham:

Deborah Armstrong will serve as Deputy Chief of  Staff/Director of Lujan  Grisham’s District Offices, which includes offices in Downtown Albuquerque and the South Valley. . . . Armstrong served in state government as the Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Aging & Long-Term Services. She is a physical therapist and attorney. Gilbert Gallegos will serve as Deputy Director of the District Offices. Gallegos previously served as deputy chief of staff and communications director in the New Mexico Governor’s Office. Before that, he was a reporter with The Albuquerque Tribune.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013 
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