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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cruces Cracks 100,000 Mark As NM Gets More Citified; What It Means For Our Politics And Economy, Plus: No More Football? NMSU And UNM Programs Draw More Scrutiny As Cost Grows & Performance Lags 

The news that the city of Las Cruces has joined the 100,000 plus population club is going to be welcomed by national Dems looking to take the southern congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Steve Pearce. The more voters living in the Democratic city, the better their chances of pulling off the upset. The presidential election year of 2016 is probably their next best chance when turnout surges. Alamogordo attorney Leslie Singh is an announced 2014 Dem candidate against Pearce.

The Las Cruces population numbers also reinforce the trend of New Mexico becoming increasingly citified. The rural areas are too small to attract significant economic development. Their populations--stagnant or dwindling for years--will continue down that road.

Cities tend to be liberal and with ABQ, Las Cruces and Santa Fe dominating the state, our five presidential electoral votes have become more safe for the Dems. In 2012 we were not a swing state, with the presidential candidates ignoring us. It appears that will again be the case in '16...

The Las Crucus population numbers also bring to mind the matter of water. Contrary to the Cassandras, New Mexico is not going to dry up and blow away. However, some rural towns and villages may fall off the map in the decades ahead. Water rights will--and must--find their way to the state's population centers. The loser will be agriculture. Already, ranches and farms are disappearing because of the severe drought. Those displaced are moving to the cities or out of state.

While Las Cruces has busted the 100k mark, the state's overall population growth is barely moving. It has become stagnant--like the economy.

People continue to move to the cities and away from the rural areas, accounting for a good chunk of the population growth of the cities. And what you see is what you may get for some time. With no major economic drivers on the horizon (with the possible exceptions of the NM Spaceport and oil and gas) the state motto of "It grows as it goes" may have to be rewritten as "It slows as it goes."

THE PHANTOM KNOWS

A reader calling themselves the "ABQ Phantom" writes of the city's econ scene:

It's not surprising that the city Economic Development Director John Garcia  boasts about the increased interest of businesses moving to Albuquerque. That's all he and Mayor Berry have to brag about. I don't thing they have brought a single new company to Albuquerque during their tenure. I don't recall one business that they have recruited to our city. I do recall BernalIilo County bringing in a beverage company to the South Valley and a Lowe's call center to the area, outperforming what Mayor Berry and John Garcia have done.

The question should also be asked of Susana Martinez and state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela. How many new companies have they recruited to New Mexico during their tenure?

We suspect those questions will be asked in this year's mayoral campaign and in the '14 Guv election, but the critique of the state's economic development performance has been--shall we say--less than vigorous.

Many New Mexicans have low expectations. That explains in part why the stagnant economies in the city and state have not rocked the political scene more.

A MISCHIEVOUS AD

And take a gander at how this anonymous reader would approach the jobs issue:

I had a wry thought the other day when reading about the new horse slaughtering facility opening near Roswell, the first domestic horse slaughter house to open in the country in six years.  The story has garnered significant national attention. Unless I am mistaken, this is the first and only new industry brought to the state by Governor Martinez since she took office. Seems to me someone could make a mischievous political ad about this...

Well, that one is sure to provoke a number of "horse laughs" among the party of the Donkey.

RADICAL TIM KELLER?

Keller
Is ABQ Dem State Senator Tim Keller a "radical." So says the NM GOP as it puts up this video, apparently in response to Keller announcing that he is considering making a run for the 2014 Dem Guv nomination.

But Keller is hardly radical--at least in the eyes of mainstream voters. In fact, he has taken heat from Dems and others for supporting Republican Governor Martinez's corporate income tax cut. the video concentrates on Keller's pro-union views, but that's hardly a Scarlett letter in the major cities of the state. Still, you have to give the R's credit for shooting at any potential target of Susana's and you have to give credit to Keller for being worthy of the attention.

By the way, Keller, 35, registered as a Republican as a teen and later became a Dem.

Speaking of that corporate tax cut, the Center for Civic Policy, a left-leaning group generally favorable toward Dems is unloading on House Speaker Kenny Martinez for ushering through that tax cut in the final minutes of the recent legislative session. They put out a robo call against Martinez's action. Here's a partial transcript of the call sent into homes in Martinez's Grants, NM area district:

...If you live in Grants or anywhere in Cibola County, get ready for a tax increase or a cut in services. Here’s why: Representative Ken Martinez used his power as Speaker to ram through a package of massive corporate tax giveaways through the legislature without allowing any debate. It’s a policy endorsed by Republican Governor Susana Martinez. Now big corporations will get over $215 million in tax cuts and Ken Martinez and the Governor are making you pay for it. The package cuts money used by cities and counties to pay for community services like law enforcement and senior centers. Call Representative Martinez...Tell him he should be looking out for folks here in New Mexico, not big corporations.

The group put out another robo call into the ABQ area district of Dem State Rep. Ed Sandoval, That one praised the chair of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee for voting against the corporate tax cut.

NO MORE FOOTBALL?

New NMSU President Carruthers raised the possibility of dropping football as the cost of the under performing program grows, along with higher student tuition and fees. Could that possibility be entertained at UNM? Should it?....

Should the University of New Mexico student body have a nonbinding vote on whether to drop football from its athletic roster? Maybe that sounds outrageous, but it could come to that as escalating student fees to support UNM athletics draw more scrutiny and ire:

...Students who are protesting the UNM regents’ decision last month are not focusing on the rise in tuition (though they’re not happy about that, either)...They’re furious that, once again, the regents ignored their formal and solicited recommendation to not increase the fee that students pay to support athletics. Last month, the regents approved an increase that doubled the student athletics fee in the span of two years, boosting it by $33.45 (following an increase of $50 last year), bringing the per-person expense to $165.20, which will net athletics an additional $900,000 per year. Both of these changes went against the recommendations of the Student Fee Review Board.

Current college rules don't allow UNM to drop football and focus more on the popular Lobo basketball team, but we're floating the idea because we sense that in the years ahead something is going to have to give in a low-income state like ours. Having a vote by the student body would give us an early gauge on where things stand today.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013 
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