Thursday, May 30, 2013

Breaking: Feds Indict In Email Case, New Mexico Still Odd Man Out In Nascent Housing Recovery, Plus: Downs And The Media; Conflicting Reporting, Santa Fe Reporter Vs. KRQE-TV, And: Is it Burque Or Albuquerque? The Readers Write 

  • Breaking news: Former campaign staffer Jamie Estrada has been indicted on federal charges of "computer intrusion and false statement charges" in connection with the hacking of an email system of Governor Martinez. Details here and here . Here's a a background report on the story.

  • New Mexico is still the odd man out when it comes to the nascent recovery in housing prices. The upward surge could mean looser wallets and more retail spending as homeowners gain confidence as they see their homes regain some of the value lost in the bubble years. But apparently not here:
    The latest data (for ABQ) shows average home sales prices in April 2013 at $197,908, down 6.3 percent from one year ago. For New Mexico, median prices for April 2013 showed a 0.3 percent decrease from April 2012, $164,000 compared to $164,490, and a 0.6 percent decrease from April 2011, when the reported median was $165,000.

    That's in contrast to this news:

    Posting the biggest gain in seven years, home prices rose 10.9% in the 12 months ending in March, a closely watched housing index said Tuesday. From February, prices were up 1.4% for the 20-city composite, as measured by the monthly Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index.

    ABQ homes are selling as investors and apartment dwellers warm to the lower prices and low mortgage rates, but a stagnant economy here that is producing no jobs is keeping a lid on ABQ housing prices.

    What's happening in the northern NM town of Taos mimics the entire state:

    Perhaps one of the most telling trends in the economic report is related to the civilian labor force... There were 84 fewer people classified as unemployed last year, bringing the county’s unemployment rate down to 8.8 percent. However, that drop was partially attributable to the fact that there were 562 fewer employed people in 2012. Losses in both categories brought the total labor force to 16,587 people--the lowest level since 2000.

    But the latest statewide and ABQ jobs report comparing this April to last indicates some recovery may finally be underway:

    New Mexico gained 7,900 jobs in the 12 months that ended on April 30 for a 1 percent growth rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday. Of those jobs, 2,700 were in the Albuquerque area, which saw a .7 percent growth rate over the year.

    It's not stuff you pop the champagne corks over, but it's better than it was.


    We're all eyes after KRQE-TV news asserted on its 10 p.m. news last night that the Santa Fe Reporter (SFR) and its sources have it all wrong on its headline making story on the ABQ Downs racino lease.

    KRQE says its sources claim the FBI is not asking any questions of former Governor Martinez campaign staffers about the controversial racino lease awarded to the Downs at ABQ. The SFR reported the opposite.

    In its report, KRQE first showed two national headlines that erroneously said Governor Martinez was being investigated by the FBI. Those headlines were based on the SFR story, but the SFR itself did not make that claim. The headline on the SFR story said:

    Sources: FBI has conducted interviews about controversial racino deal

    The TV station then said--contrary to the newspaper--that  their sources tell them that the FBI is not asking any questions at all  about the lucrative racino lease but are asking questions only about who hacked into a campaign email account of the Governor.

    The emails in that account raised the issue of possible bid-rigging for the Downs deal among top administration officials. KRQE then said its "sources" say that there could be indictments "by the end of the week" regarding the email hacking.  (There was an indictment in the email case today as we report above)>

    We do not have a transcript or video of the KRQE report. As of Midnight. we did not see any posted on their web site. We did not record the newscast. We are recounting what we viewed as the story aired live. We're waiting to see if a permanent record of the story is posted by the station--as there is for the SFR story--and we will link to if and when they post it or send it to us. If we find we misquoted any of it we will let you know. (The station this morning posted the video of the report on the web site, but not the transcript.)

    This is the first skirmish in what could be a long war over this story--between media outlets as well as the politicians. The SFR, an alternative news outlet with a reputation for edgy but accurate reporting, is certainly going to stand by its sources who they said included an attorney for one of the ex-campaign staffers as well as the staffers themselves.

    Downs at ABQ general manager Darren White, who was once a reporter for KRQE-TV, praised the KRQE report and attacked the SFR via his Twitter account:

    Nice for @krqe to show difference between journalism & smear job. FBI investigating stolen emails. Period.

    Channel 13 did not characterize in any way their sources--whether they are from law enforcement, from the Governor's political camp or someone else who is telling them there "could" be indictments and claiming that the FBI is not asking any questions at all about the awarding of the racino lease.

    The administration has been doing all it can to have the media and public focus on the email hacking as the real wrong in this case--not the possible bribery and corruption in the ABQ racino deal that are the focus of the SFR account. There was a federal  indictment in the email case late Thursday morning that we cover at the top of today's blog.


    A postscript--Some national media outlets weren't the only ones who ran inaccurate headlines on this story. We ran an inaccurate headline in the first draft of our blog Wednesday. It said the Santa Fe Reporter said Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey had been interviewed by the FBI. That was inaccurate. The paper reported that the ex-campaign staffers said they were asked by the FBI about consulting payments McCleskey had received. It was not disclosed in the article what the consulting payments were for or from whom. We corrected the blog and apologized for the error on both the blog and our Twitter account.


    It got pretty intense (and fun) around here Wednesday when we suggested that "Burque," a nickname for Albuquerque, be banned and we likened it to something gangbangers say. Allen Sanchez roasted our suggestion this way:

    Will some one ban that name "Joe"?  In Spanish it sounds like a hole in the ground. What happened to that dignified name "Joseph."Or worse "Dick" for "Richard." Remember someone's mama gave them that name. Nicknames are terms of endearment. Burque has been used for centuries. I remember my sweet 80 year old grand father use that term "Burque" when I was a little boy. My Tata (grandfather) was no gang banger. So Joe we will tolerate "Joe" if you tolerate our term of endearment "Burque". By the way, we always thought of you as an honorary Burqueno, if it fits wear it.

    Thanks, Allen. Of course, we won't tell anyone that you live in Valencia County.

    Helen Laura Lopez chimed in from Taos:

    Joe - You stepped in it this time. Ban the Burque is the most controversial thing you have written in a decade. Fugeddaboudit. It aint gonna happen.

    Matthew Garcia-Sierra writes:

    Saying that "burqueño" and "burque" are "gang-banger" words is elitist. Those words, to me and my circle of friends, represent the culture that we have grown up in. I am a student, close to graduating with a degree in Strategic Communications, and I see the terms "burque" and "burqueño" as ingenious marketing words that will set our city apart from others. New Mexico is slow to change and adopt new ideas, but I know that my generation is ready for the future and set to make New Mexico the destination that it should be. These words are harmless and by stating that they are associated with "gangbangers" disrespects my entire generation and degrades our achievements.

    From ABQ, Bernadette Chavez wrote

     I so agree with you. Burque or Burquenos is a gang moniker. Period! Ask anyone who works closely with gangs in this city. In using this to describe our wonderful city, we are giving a high five to all the gangs who wear shirts with the moniker "Burque." Little do people know that on these shirts the "R" is a gun. 

    Well, long live Albuquerque or "Burque"--if you must.

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