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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Who Are The Political Casualties Of Intel Job Slashing? Plus: Latest ABQ Radio Ratings Show #1 Station Losing Dominance, And: Money Watch: NM Competes Plays In ABQ Election 

The body slam delivered by Intel to the ABQ metro economy when it announced 400 job cuts at its Rio Rancho plant came as no shock to readers of New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan.

That's because last month our readers and Intel insiders deconstructed the media and corporate spin surrounding its future. They warned that not only could Intel see the permanent end of its growth here but that the tombstone for the site may already be getting chiseled.

Intel once cast a huge shadow across the state economy. It's still a powerhouse but a much downsized one. It approached 6,000 employees in its heyday. With the job cuts, full-time employment will shrink to 2,900. And if the plant is not upgraded in the next year or two, our Intel insiders fear it will be only a matter of time before the company's presence here is reduced even more or even eliminated.

The immediate political casualty of the Intel hit seems to be Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack. Already under siege by a Tea Party dominated city council in the Republican leaning suburb of ABQ, Democrat Swisstack has been joined at the hip with Intel. He may see the writing on the wall and forego a bid for re-election in the March 2014 balloting.

Already three mayoral candidates have emerged to seek to lead the City of Vision. Among them is Republican Gregg Hull who says the once booming city of 80,000 has to look past Intel for its economic future:

Rio Rancho needs a renewed vision...one that develops a long term economic plan for future prosperity. Past leaders of Rio Rancho have failed to plan for a future that would include a deeply reduced presence of the Intel plant in Rio Rancho. It is imperative that new leadership begin the process of developing plans that include a greater balance of large industry and small business.

Mayor Swisstack is assuring Rio Rancho that Intel is there to stay, but no one is going to hang their hat on that now that the mass job cuts have hit.  Homeowners are now bracing for another decline in Rio real estate prices and the city could also face reduced tax collections as the Intel job losses slow business.

SUSANA, KENNY & INTEL

Speaker Martinez
Also taking a hit over the Intel job slashing is Governor Martinez and Democratic state House Speaker Kenny Martinez. Both of them argued that cutting the corporate tax rate and passing a tax break for Intel and other companies known as the single sales factor would lead to job creation. That argument now lies in shattered fragments on the Roundhouse floor.

House Democrats who supported the tax cuts and face tough re-election prospects have no leg to stand on. They are stuck with their tax cutting vote--and the ongoing job losses in the state. How is that going to rally the Democratic base to vote on the #1 issue facing them? It isn't, but the Senate and House Dems who authored the tax cuts show no signs of backing off. And that means only one thing--the House could go Republican next year--either through a conservative coalition-or an outright Republican takeover.

Don't say we didn't tell you...

WRONG PHOTO?

A reader of the Senior Alligator variety writes:

Check out the state Economic Development web site (former Intel executives Jon Barela and Barbara Brazil now lead the department). A photo in the department's slide show is of Intel with this message:

"New Mexico business climate includes a nearly 0% corporate income tax for manufacturers and a 22% reduction in business taxes for other job creators"

ON THE DIAL

Radio in ABQ is still around, of course, although much diminished as most of the colorful (and well-paid personalities) have been cut from the rosters during the course of the recession

The latest ABQ ratings show conservative talk station KKOB-AM still in the number one slot, but with a greatly reduced audience from a few years ago. The station garners 6.3 of the audience aged 12 plus and over, according to the latest Aribtrends. The station was grabbing a 9 share in days past.

Veteran talk host Jim Villanucci left the station for Oregon earlier this year and that may have had an impact on the station's ratings.

The #2 station in the ABQ metro is country KRST-FM with 5.1 audience share. Sharing third place in Arbitrends for the June through August period are top 40 stations KKOB-FM and KKSS-FM. Both win 4.5% of the listeners aged 12 and over.

MONEY WATCH

That dark money that has been supporting Governor Martinez via radio ads about the state's mental health care mess has found its way into the ABQ city election.

Newsman Peter St. Cyr reports that the nonprofit "NM Competes," run by state GOP political operative Sara Lister, has given $10,000 to a committee called "ABQ Forward."

That committee is run by Adam Feldman, a longtime associate of Mayor Berry and Governor Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey, as well as a former executive director of the NM GOP. Feldman now runs a consulting firm called Red Tag Strategies.

Under the IRS rules it operates under, NM Competes can collect unlimited anonymous donations and use the cash for issue advocacy, but not to directly support a candidate. The line between the two can be very blurry.

Pete Dinelli's campaign says Feldman is using the cash to bash Democrat Dinelli, the chief challenger to Republican Mayor Berry in the Oct. 8 election.

We didn't even know NM Competes could donate money to these kind of political committees until St. Cyr made the Feldman-McCleksey connection. Feldman's wife Dana was Berry's campaign manager in 2009. She now works for the city.

Following the money these days is like running through a maze.

AD WATCH

The public safety unions (police and fire) have formed a committee to take on Mayor Berry in the election. They've come with another TV spot--a hard-hitting ad that focuses on what they say are low APD staffing levels that slows police response times...

Mayoral hopeful Pete Dinelli held a news conference Monday to condemn Mayor Berry's latest TV hit on him as a "smear." The video of the news conference is here. The ad is here.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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