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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On The Econ Beat; Where The Bear Still Roams, Plus: Martinez And Our Federal Funding: Lip Service Only? And: Lobomania As Our Great Escape  

When the housing bubble burst here, down went construction--so far down that employment levels hit multi-decade lows. And it's still not over? Not yet, says the state:

In January, construction continued its downtrend and has yet to hit its trough after six years of consecutive negative job growth. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities had no change in employment level....

A new boom in housing could lead us out of the recession we still seem to be in, but you need jobs to spark demand and that's not happening. The latest

The unemployment rate in New Mexico’s four major metropolitan areas increased in January from December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said The increases buck a trend in which the jobless rates fell in 227 of the nation’s 372 major metropolitan areas in January, the BLS said. The unemployment rate climbed in 124 metro areas and remained unchanged in 21.

IRONY TIME?

There may be some irony developing for the Martinez administration. As it deplores the state's "dependency" on federal funding, that may be exactly what provides some spark to the economy next year when the Guv seeks re-election. The Medicaid expansion she signed under Obamacare will begin to pump hundreds of millions into the state, creating jobs in the healthcare field and elsewhere.

LIP SERVICE?

We don't seem to be getting much more than lip service when it comes to the administration and the immense federal funding for the state's energy and military complex. The Guv said she would speak with the Vice President about funding for the national labs when she trekked to Rome with him for a mass for the new pope. There was no news released about any conversation. And in her latest newspaper column she says:

The mandatory cuts in Washington, D.C., will disproportionately hurt our state and while we will always fight to protect our labs and bases, we must simultaneously work to diversify our economy by building a stronger private sector.

In an earlier column she said she has met with the state's congressional delegation about the threat to the state's chief economic engine--the federal government--but there was push back to that from one of our Alligators:

I can tell you the Governor meets with each member of the delegation when they go to Santa Fe to address the Legislature, so once every two years. She has not met with Senator Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan any other time and I would imagine the same is true for ABQ Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. I do not know about Senator Udall, but I cannot imagine it is any different.

So where is the special bipartisan citizens commission? Where's the state's lobbying effort in DC working in conjunction with our congressional delegation? Where is the business community which benefits so greatly from the Fed funding directly and indirectly? And where are the meetings between the Guv and our DC delegation?

Where is the fight?

The state is drifting into an economic black hole and there seems little concerted effort to fight it. The radical right dislikes government at all levels and apparently cares not if the state loses its economic lifeblood as represented by funding for the federal complex here.

The Governor has approval ratings north of 60% and as a Republican Hispanic woman she commands national attention in the Republican Party which controls the US House. Can't she spend some of that political capital by fighting to protect the billions of dollars that come in here each year? That is tangible cash. It is not the wishful thinking represented by the mish-mash tax cut package passed by the Legislature and that advocates assert will bring corporate jobs here to replace the valuable federal jobs we risk losing.

Where is the Governor Martinez who as a district attorney fought tenaciously to protect the state from child abusers and other criminals? Can't the chief executive bring that same fight to the historic challenge we face with our federal funding? Or is her heart just not into it?

ODDS AND ENDS


Here's a pretty cool pic. It's Senator Martin Heinrich showing President Obama scenes on his I-Pad of the Rio Grande del Norte near Taos. It was snapped a couple of weeks ago at a legislators conference.

Obama signed legislation Monday making the area--which includes the famed Rio Grande Gorge--a national monument. Heinrich attended the signing ceremony at the Oval Office while Senator Udall celebrated the designation with Taos area residents....

Mayoral candidate Paul Heh, reacting to news we broke here Monday, says he thinks it is untoward for Mayor Berry to be having a fund-raising lunch at high-tech firm Emcore. The company was the site of a fatal shooting spree by a disgruntled employee who killed two people as well as himself and injured four. Says Republican Heh:

Berry finds it acceptable to hold his $1,000/plate fundraiser at the very location of one of Albuquerque’s worst and most horrific crimes scene. This is a new low...This is just another example of how out of touch Mayor Berry is with the community. Not only does he fail to see how inappropriate it is for a sitting mayor to bootstrap his campaign off of the tragedy of all those victims, but he flaunts his insensitivity and arrogance with a fundraiser for $1,000 a plate.

Maybe Berry is being somewhat insensitive given the numerous fatal police shootings we've had under his watch and that are being investigated by the Department of Justice. On the other hand, should Emcore be quarantined forever?...

Several readers said that the Alligator writing in here Monday with an analysis of the state Senate may have left the implication that the Senate Majority Whip is elected by the entire Senate. The position is filled by Senate Democrats, the majority party....

LOBOMANIA

A reader writes of the UNM basketball Lobos and the end of their season when they were defeated by Harvard at the opening round of the NCAA tournament:

With all the bad news about jobs, the economy, and education, and any hope of recovery or success rapidly disappearing from the horizon, we still had the Lobos to take our mind off it all. It was our great escape.

The team seemed to be one of the few things left breathing life into Albuquerque and New Mexico. Now, it’s like all the oxygen has left the room. It was amazing to observe how consumed and dependent so many of us had become on the success of the Lobos. We were so desperate for good news that we were willing to dismiss bad business deals, accept poor judgment, and even silence our critical thoughts because we were so fortunate to have at least something to not only hope for, but rely on. This was finally the year that fan’s demands would be met that the Lobos were going to win big in the NCAA Tournament, and we were willing to give up control to those who would bring us that success.

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