Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Long Five Years For ABQ Metro; Private Sector Job Loss One Slot Away From Worst In USA, Plus: The Hunt For The "Eye On ABQ" And: The Money Pit; Naming Rights Problem For Arena Draws Reader Interest  

Just how much damage has been done to the ABQ metro in the epic economic downturn of the last five years? More than probably anyone thinks. We just crunched the numbers for job growth for the private sector for the past five years for 102 metro areas in the USA. ABQ ranks 101.

Actually, we've had no private job sector growth at all since the economic collapse of 2008, but a substantial decline.

According to the On Numbers survey from the Business Journals, ABQ has lost 8.55% of its private jobs in the past five years. Only Las Vegas, Nevada, suffering from a real estate and tourism recession was worse, losing nearly 10% of its workforce to the Great Bear Market.

ABQ also had a real estate bubble that led to a construction depression and the subsequent loss of thousands of construction jobs. But professional jobs have also been pummelled. Restoring the city to anywhere near the buoyant days will take years--absent another bubble economy.

In the past year, ABQ is finally posting some private sector job additions, but looking at the state employment reports, it appears we are adding them in the low paying sectors such as leisure and hospitality. Any job growth is good news, but the fact is the city is a lot poorer than it was five years ago. (The workforce here was over 400,000 in late 2007. Today the state says it is at around 371,900).

If ABQ has its hands full trying to prevent people from feeling for the exits, rural New Mexico needs armed guards to prevent the exodus. The latest example? Raton in the north, where the newspaper there--the Raton Range--has closed down. They hope to reappear in some form someday, but with the population there dropping--now about 6,800--and business in a long term slump, the good years are gone.


Retired APD Seargent Dan Klein, always on the beat for us, comes with this news about the hunt for the author of an anonymous blog critical of APD---the "Eye on ABQ" :

Joe, I just watched KRQE-TV at 5:30 pm tonight July 22. The lead story was about the Eye on Albuquerque and how APD believes it is one of their own that runs it (Really like we didn't already know this?)  They never name the person accused but do talk about the social media policy at APD. 

It seems that KRQE is getting their marching orders right from (Governor Martinez and Mayor Berry political consultant) Jay McCleskey and (ABQ Downs VP) Darren White--Go after anyone who speaks bad about Susana, Berry or APD Chief Schultz.

After the fiasco with the Santa Fe Reporter you would think they would put their foot down and not be the whipping boys for the governor and mayor. KRQE has lost a lot of respect...

Thanks, Dan. The hunt for "The Eye" comes after it has been publishing for nearly seven years and right in the middle of the 2013 mayoral election in which Mayor Berry is hoping to be re-elected.

The KRQE report fails to point out that the October 8 mayoral election looms and that the sudden interest in identifying any police officer associated with it could be politically motivated and an effort to quiet the web site before the election. You know, giving a full picture of what is going on?

KRQE-TV also failed to mention that in May of 2010 Republican Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson--then a candidate for the commission and an ally of Governor Martinez--would not answer when the ABQ Journal asked him if he was a contributor to the Eye on ABQ. He said at the time:

"My question is, 'Why would it matter?' 

You would think reporting all of this--the other side of coin--would be basic journalism in a town this size, but KRQE has already had to apologize once for being overzealous in reporting about a former campaign staffer critical of Governor Martinez.

We're saddened about what has happened to the CBS affiliate but if they keep using McCleskey and White as their assignment editors, they are going to keep getting burned. Don't say we didn't tell you...


VP Krebs
ABQ Dem state Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto writes in reaction to the report we carried on the blog about naming rights for the UNM basketball arena--"The Pit":

Joe, I am apoplectic over the statement by UNM VP Paul Krebs that without a naming gift the financial structure for The Pit is unsustainable. How irresponsible and disrespectful to taxpayers for UNM to break ground on renovation while they depend on a future, uncommitted $10 million dollar gift--more than 20% of the total cost of the project!

Now when no one steps up to rename the venue, UNM will come back to the taxpayers for more and more financial support. I am researching to see if UNM even mentioned renaming the famed Pit when they sought legislative funding for the renovation...Meanwhile, UNM continues their claim that athletics pays for itself...

Reader Al Duran also weighs in on this one:

Joe, as to the cost of the Pit’s remodel it was about $60 million--not the $45 million cited by the  UNM VP. How do I know? I was in charge of providing builders risk insurance for all State owned buildings in New Mexico at the time of the remodel. Usually remodels are not subject to Builders Risk but because of the cost it was included. Add to the remodel the indoor football practice facility at $5 million that was done a little before the Pit and you have a cost over $65 million.

We've already opined how we were stunned by how little The Pit seemed to have changed when we visited the arena for the first time after the remodel. The addition of sky boxes to bring in corporate revenue and big screen TV's is about it. And the food remains lousy--really lousy.

For $60 million they could have started from scratch and built a new 21st style arena, but nostalgia got in the way of common sense.


There's been talk around town that the Maloof family--once pillars of the local business community--but now long gone, could somehow come back and pony up $10 million for the naming rights for The Pit. Don't count on it, says one of our Senior Alligators:

The late George Maloof was a great supporter of Albuquerque and UNM sports. His wife, Colleen, was a UNM regent. However, times have changed and the Maloofs are being pressed to dispose of their own debts and probably not in a position to help with UNM's debt on the Pit. With the collapse of Las Vegas and sale of their Palms Casino, the Maloof obligations are significant. My guess is that they had to pledge equity in the Sacramento Kings (The NBA franchise they recently sold) to satisfy Palms creditors. Gavin Maloof recently had his 13,000 sq ft mansion in Las Vegas for sale for $12 million. The life and times of the Maloofs is fodder for an interesting movie. They were good for New Mexico.

The Maloofs are now gone from here but they are fondly remembered in ABQ and NM. A chief reason is the warm relationships they forged with the thousands of people they employed over the many decades they prospered.


Joe Monahan (with Gator)
By the way, the UNM naming rights controversy is among a string of bad news for UNM lately. The Regents have been called out for apparently violating the state Open Meetings Act and UNM President Robert Frank is drawing attention for paying over $1 million to consultants to provide it with advise on--among other things--"strategic vision." A big chunk of the payments raise the issue of cronyism:

Frank’s office paid a North Carolina-based consulting firm, Cirra, Inc., nearly $125,000 to help him transition into his role as president, according to UNM documents. Then he paid Cirra another $130,000 to come up with a road map of where the university wants to be by the end of the decade and how it plans to get there....To put together that plan, Cirra President Steve Sloate, who has known Frank since the two of them worked together at the University of Florida in the 1990s, flew from Durham, N.C., to Albuquerque every month for the last year and a half...

Hey, didn't the Alligators warn a couple of months ago that UNM's play to secure a larger management role for Sandia Labs could lead to political shenanigans there? In any event...

Like his predecessor, David Schmidly, who also hired and out of state consultants for hundreds of thousands who he had past links to, Frank defends the spending by saying outside consultants are necessary to get the vision thing right.

It all brings to mind that old saying: "An expert in New Mexico is anyone not from here."

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