Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor 

  • ABQ Mayor Berry said over the weekend he will seek a second four year term this October. However, Berry said he will bypass the city's public financing system for elections and raise private money. That opens the door for a much bigger spending campaign than we saw in 2009 when Berry was first elected. Also picking up petitions Saturday to make a run for Mayor were were Pete Dinelli, Paul Heh, Jay Flowers and Margaret Aragon de Chavez. Dinelli will try to qualify for public financing.
Is it time to privatize the New Mexico and ABQ economic development departments? If so, the Dems would be smart to lead the charge. It would boost their biz credentials. Both departments have been befuddled by the Great Recession. Why not let the private sector give it a shot as we continue to languish in the cellar when it comes to job creation?....

Is anyone talking about tearing down and building a new Popejoy Hall--the state's cultural landmark at the University of New Mexico? They ought to. A recent visit showed the nearly 50 year old hall not shabby--but certainly worn and dated. A remodel of the hall--but not the foyer--back in the 90's was well done, but time marches on. Today the state's premier cultural events center needs more than a remodel...

And why even bother mentioning the pre-Jurassic era Tingley Coliseum at the state fairgrounds in ABQ? It should have been torn down and rebuilt a quarter century ago. The albatross continues to suck up maintenance dollars and is a deplorable commentary on what we put up with...


The Bernalillo County R's were on the blog this week opposing the measure to increase the percentage an ABQ Mayor or city councilor must win to be elected from 40% to 50% of the vote. The state Dems come with their rejoinder. They are in favor:

Should the minority of voters continue to get to pick our elected officials, or should majority elections for the City Council and the Mayor be instituted. That's right--current election law allows for a mere 40% of voters to select our Mayor and City Councilors. The Democratic Party of New Mexico is urging voters to vote "yes" on this important issue and bring fairness to our city's elections. Keep an eye out in your mailbox for your ballot--Vote "yes," sign the envelope, add a stamp and mail it back! It's that simple. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to join the DPNM and their Democratic allies in supporting this measure and voting "yes!"

The mail-in ballots for the March 11 special election went out this week. Asking voters to pay the postage for this is a sure-fire guarantee for very low participation.


30 year old Jay Flowers, who works in office services at a city law firm, says he is a member of the "working poor" and wants to bring their issues to the public. To do that he tells us he is going to run for Mayor of ABQ. Flowers says he will pick up petitions from the city clerk this weekend, along with other potential candidates.

He may be for the working poor but he is against the recent increase in the city's minimum wage. We'll let him explain that one. But he is a registered Republican....


From Jay Leno:

President Obama wants Congress to increase the minimum wage. And believe me, when it comes to doing the minimum for their wage, Congress knows what it's talking about.

That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by. Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Guv Talks Economy, Mayor Candidates Start Lining Up Saturday; What They Need, Plus: Special City Election Gets Underway; It's Below The Radar 

Taking a look at Governor Susana's most recent statement on the state's economic dilemma, she appears to have gotten half of it right:

Are we competitive, as far as our tax structure, or are we so high and so costly and have such a poor education system that they don't want to live here. We can't keep doing the same things over and over and overtaxing business so they can't keep their doors open and they move and they take their families with them.

Our tax structure is not the issue. How could it be when we had a mega-bull market in New Mexico with essentially the same tax structure we have today? That big expansion ended as the economy crashed everywhere in 2008.

Businesses are shutting their doors because there is not enough demand in our economy because we don't have enough jobs--not because of taxes. Just ask them.

The Guv gets it right when she says people don't want to live here because of the education problem. It's not that our teachers are lousy, it's that our students are not prepared. People from outside the state want to send their kids to schools where the kids do well.

Many of our kids don't do well because their parents don't value education. A possible long-term solution: That constitutional amendment that would allow us to tap the nearly $12 billion permanent fund for very early childhood programs--programs that instill the value of education in parents and break the generational cycle of under performance that haunts this state.

No guarantees but when you are 49th or 50th on the list, you have to take a chance and invest in human capital. If it was okay to take a chance and lose when we put millions in state funds in Eclipse Aviation, Schott Solar and a stack of other private sector ventures that went belly-up, why can't our generation muster the courage to finally say enough is enough?

Sorry to interrupt you Santa Fe. You can go back now to getting autographs from Dog the Bounty Hunter or the other really important stuff that occupies your time up there.


It won't be quite as hard for an ABQ mayoral candidate to get on the October ballot as we first thought. You will need 3,000 signatures from registered voters, instead of one percent of the total number of those registered. There are about 362,000 registered so if the old rule of one percent had not been changed by the council you would have needed 3,600.

The problem for candidates is qualifying for public financing, For that you need $5 dollar contributions from the one percent of those registered or about 3,600. That is a very high hurdle, but if you do it your campaign is funded by the city to the tune of $360,000 or thereabouts.

You could have a candidate get the petition signatures but not the donations. Going forward from there is unrealistic.

Come this Saturday candidates will trek to the city clerks' office downtown to pick up their petition forms and receipt books to qualify for public financing. They will have only until April 1 to collect the needed signatures and donations.


Ballots started to go out this week in that below-the-radar March 11 ABQ special election that would make a mayoral candidate get 50% of the vote instead of 40% to claim the office on the 11th floor of city hall.

The proposed change was forced on the ballot by the citizen petition process and if it passes it is sen as hurting the re-election chances of Mayor Berry. The Bernalillo County GOP fired the first volley against the measure which is being voted on in an all mail-in election:

It is up to each and every one of us to stop this scheme headed up by AFSCME and other unions who collected the signatures to require this vote. It's an obvious ploy by AFSCME and their liberal allies to take over city government.Please help stop this from happening. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Forward this email. Tell them to vote no. Explain the costs. When you consider the cost of this special mail in election is roughly $600,000 and estimates are that runoffs can cost as much as an additional $800,000 the fact is we simply can't afford it. This is money that could be used to buy new fire trucks, hire more cops, maintain our parks or lots of other things that are more important than allowing a small few to control who runs our city.

Supporters argue a majority vote should be required to elect a Mayor and urge support for the ballot measure.

Participation is going to be low. This is a somewhat confusing process issue. But it is a key event in this year's election, If it passes, the odds of taking Berry out go up. He won in a three way contest in 2009 by getting 44% of the vote. If this measure had been in effect at that time, he would have faced a run-off election with the top Dem vote-getter and in a Dem dominated city Dem analysts think he probably would have lost.


The city of ABQ has traditionally had a solid record in addressing homelessness. Mayor Berry says it's continuing:

Mayor Berry, the Albuquerque Heading Home [AHH] Team, and the City’s Family & Community Services Department gathered to celebrate a major milestone reached through the two-year-old program AHH. The goal for February 2013 was to provide housing for 160 individuals; the AHH team surpassed that goal by 11 people, not including their families who have also been housed with them. Last week approximately 150 volunteers gathered together to survey people struggling with homelessness across the city. Around 420 individuals were surveyed, from those surveys, data was collected that shows AHH is having a true impact on the Albuquerque community.

Congrats to the volunteers....


Sen. Ortiz y Pino
ABQ Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino responds to a critic heard on the Wednesday blog:

Joe, I was amused at the "longtime Democratic alligator's" critique of the op-ed I wrote for the New Mexican. I read the piece over after reading your blog, and honestly don't think I need to defend myself against his take.

Yes, I said it was refreshing to see the Governor break with the majority of her Republican colleagues in other states on implementing Obamacare; and I did suggest if she works with the Democrats she can get more done than by lashing us at every opportunity...but I also said that her best chance at re-election to distance herself from staunch conservative issues...and that ginning up faux issues only divides the state. Not sure that's gushing, but I think it's accurate. And I wrote the piece 3 weeks ago. Not sure she's following my advice...in fact Keith Gardner has sniped at me in passing that my op ed indicates I'm not working collaboratively on the Health Insurance Exchange.

That's an interesting comment on Keith Gardner. The lanky staff chief headed underground last year when explosive comments he made about the Legislature came to light on a leaked audio tape. Keith is a pretty tall guy, but he's doing his best to lay low.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Unvarnished Santa Fe Reality: Susana Is Winning; How And Why, Plus: Name Dropping A Potential Guv Foe For Susana; It Will Surprise You, And: Udall Positioning In DC; How's It Looking? 

We aren't the state's '"must-read" blog for nothing. Today we're back with more of the real story on what is happening in Santa Fe in this 60 day legislative session--the unvarnished political reality that is taking shape and that could set up Governor Martinez for her 2014 re-election.

She is calling this 60 day legislative session "very smooth" and state Democrats seem just fine with letting it stay that way. She is literally redefining herself right before their eyes--from a heels-in-cement ideologue to the compromiser in chief.

Here is one of the veteran Dem Alligators on how Susana is reshaping the political landscape while the Dems quietly acquiesce. In short, why and how she is in the process of scoring a major political victory:

Nearly midway through this legislative session and the Democrats have managed to do everything but crown Susana for a second term. Are they so lacking leadership and lacking a Governor candidate that they have just decided to give in and allow Susana to completely renovate her image as she gets ready to run?

Dems act as if this is a surprising tactic on Susana's part. In an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican this weekend, one of the most liberal members of the legislature--Democratic Senator Gerry Ortiz y Pino, called the Governor's new look on life to be "refreshing." Try again, Senator, how about insincere? Duplicitous?

Everyone who has a political bone in their body knew that Susana would use this session to moderate her image prior to the session.  But it seems to be a big surprise to Dems in the legislature. Either way, (Guv political adviser) Jay McCleskey sure seems to be enjoying life over long lunches at the Rio Chama. He should, these are his days of wine and roses.

As our state--with one of the worst economies in the nation--racks up bad ranking after bad ranking, Susana has the lifeless Democrats talking about HER compromise issues: gun control, Medicaid, and driver's licenses.  Of course this is a "very smooth" session for Susana.  It's a winning session and it will get her a second term. 

Some Democrats need to step up, throw caution to the wind, take a political risk and stand up for something besides their own re-election. When do the Dems plan to drag the lifeless body of (economic development secretary) Jon Barela to a committee hearing and start beating some sort of economic development plan out of  him?  When will Dems shine a light on the poverty, joblessness and hopelessness we are experiencing in this state?

Finally, a message to the thousands of people out of work and on hold at the Workforce "Solutions" Department: "Please continue to hold, your Democratic representatives at the state legislature are currently serving other customers.  Be patient, and we'll get right back to you.  In the meantime, press #2014 to hear about our plans for Governor Susana Martinez's re-election."

Yeah, that's red-hot stuff and cold hard reality.

The Governor deserves credit for making the pivot and getting ready for the next election. And if the opposition party is not going to hold her accountable, it is that much easier.


Roxanne Lara
The anguish in the Democratic Party over the lack of potential 2014 challengers to Governor Martinez grows more palpable as the legislative session continues to bend her way. But in a brainstorming session of our Alligators a surprising possibility emerged. What about attorney and former Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne Lara who is currently seeking the chairmanship of the NM Democratic Party? For Governor? Yep.

None of us asked her or were prompted by any of her friends. It just popped up....

The Gators gamed it this way: If Lara does not win the chairmanship she could run for the Democratic nomination for Governor and would bring with her some major political attributes:

--She would be a Hispanic woman running against a Hispanic woman.

 --Her resume matches up nicely against Martinez who was a district attorney before becoming Governor. She ups the Guv by having small biz experience running her own law firm.

--As a native of Carlsbad in SE NM, Lara could cut into important Republican support for Martinez in that area. Also, she has some roots in Martinez's home county of Dona Ana. 

--Lara is now 37, younger than the Guv who is 53. That can be an advantage when presenting yourself as the fresh alternative.

--Lara is articulate and has been vetted because of her two runs for the county commission.

--Her nickname is "Rocky" and we all know how that movie turned out. (We don't know, however, if her husband Manuel likes bologna sandwiches).

Very interesting, isn't it? We thought so.


Senator Tom Udall filled out his subcommittee assignments on the all-important Senate Appropriations Committee this week. A Senior Alligator basking on the banks of the Potomac has the essential analysis:

For being a freshman on the committee which is so important to New Mexico he did well. He is on the agriculture, energy, interior, financial services and military construction subcommittees The most important of these is the energy subcommittee because that department spends billions at Sandia and Los Alamos. Interior is also important because of jurisdiction over Indian tribes, public lands and related spending.

Because we are not doing "earmarking" of Federal spending anymore, it's harder to steer money for pet projects so Udall will need to play the finesse game more than his predecessors.

A missing link here might be the defense subcommittee on appropriations which also plays a major role in the state's economy. However, with major cuts coming down, he may have opted not to be in the middle of a barroom brawl. He can still play  a role when it comes to military construction in the state.

Strategically for New Mexico, however, it is better for him to be in the energy fight than the battle over defense. Energy is where the really big bucks are for us.


Conrad James
A defense of former ABQ GOP State Rep. Conrad James today who was described here recently as not working particularly hard at his re-election which he lost to Dem Elizabeth Thomson. James got a consolation prize when Governor Martinez named him to the UNM Board of Regents. Here's real estate agent Toni Olmi going to bat for James:

Joe, Had the insiders you quote been out in the district, t hey would have bumped into Conrad James while he was out knocking on nearly three thousand doors. He out-performed Romney by 7 points while his opponent underperformed Obama by one point. Additionally, the new district put former Rep. James at an 8 point D to R party registration disadvantage. (See election info and new map at here) It would appear that former Rep. James did in fact work hard.

Thanks, Toni. Let's concede for a moment that James did work hard. But as the first Republican African-American elected to the Legislature whose district was solely in Bernalillo County, James was expected to tack to the center. But he did not separate himself from the GOP pack in the state House which is too conservative for his district. The R's in Bernalillo County need moderate Republicans to advance their cause. As a UNM Regent James now has the opportunity to put some points on the board--points we did not see him scoring during his brief tenure in Santa Fe.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Susana Says Santa Fe Ride is "Very Smooth"; Why She's Right, Plus: Are Days Numbered For APD Chief Schultz? City Establishment Seems To Be Turning, And: Former UNM President Chris Garcia Blogs Of Prostitution Case  

With the 60 day session of the New Mexico Legislature nearly at its midway point, Governor Martinez describes it as "very smooth." And that's not wishful thinking on her part. It is smooth indeed for her because the majority Democrats in the state Senate remain split and have been unable to score any points against her.

This is promising for Martinez who will likely get a compromise on the driver's license issue, a spaceport liability bill and a few minor items and call the session a success.

Unless the Dems can put her feet to the fire, left on the table untouched will be her chief vulnerability--the woeful state economy.

The feebleness of the Dems was presented in stark relief this week when their own Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith actually said it might be possible to give Martinez some of the corporate income tax cut she wants. That will probably die in the House but still.....

Say what?

President Obama and the Dems just passed a tax boost on the most wealthy Americans and New Mexico is talking about cutting corporate taxes?

The great disconnect between the November election results when Obama scored a landslide here and the Dems picked up seats in the state House continues to define this session. No one is rocking the boat in Santa Fe so the public is paying scant attention.  For Susana that is indeed "very smooth" sailing. Now, as for after the session and if this economy continues to deteriorate....well.....


Chief Ray Schultz
With a mayoral election fast approaching in ABQ, the political ride is a bit bumpier as some ripples are seen over the economy as well as the troubled leadership of the ABQ Police Department.

Will APD Chief Ray Schultz still be around come October when voters cast ballots and decide whether to re-elect Mayor Richard Berry?

The noose could tighten on Schultz as the Department of Justice investigation into the practices of APD picks up speed. This week Schultz, chief since 2005, is being questioned by the media about his out-of-state-travel expenses. It doesn't look like as if there were any abuses there, but one of the Senior Alligators poked through the report and came with this:

One of the more intriguing aspects of the Journal story detailing Chief Schultz's extensive national travel (while many would argue the police department he's charged with running was falling apart) was buried:

"On some of the trips, other city officials accompanied Schultz. Their names were redacted without explanation from the documents provided to the Journal."


Why did Schultz not release the names of his travelling companions?

At least two women who work for the Chief--Karen Fischer and Joanna Hammond--accompanied him to the International Association of Chief's of Police conference in San Diego, CA just a few months ago. The conference ran from September 29 - October 3, 2012 with Fischer and Hammond leaving the morning of September 27 and returning the evening of October 4.  Everyone attending the San Diego trip received full city pay.

Why this information has to be dug out like it was a state secret speaks to the culture of APD. It's not just the numerous fatal police shootings that brought the US Justice Department here--it is the culture of a department that lurches from one misstep to another.

This story could be the business and media establishment finally signaling that it's time for Berry to throw in the towel on Schultz. The DOJ probe is a major black eye for the city and it is not good for business--especially when the city has the worst economy in generations and trying to bring business in here.

We see this long and deep travel story on Schultz as the first gentle push toward the door. If Ray doesn't take the hint, watch for shoving to begin in earnest.


Attention New Mexico Hispanics, Roger Ailes and conservative Fox News say they want you. Really:

“. . . .The contributions being made by Latinos are extraordinary, and we need to talk about them . . .  And then there’s the term “illegal immigration,” which Ailes, a former adviser to three Republican presidents, thinks the party should veer away from. . . .

Meanwhile, liberal Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich says he wants you too:

Heinrich announced that he will join the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force. The mission of the task force is to increase communication between Hispanic leaders and senators to ensure that the issues of the Hispanic community are addressed. . . Retired Senator Jeff Bingaman established the task force in 1989 and served as chairman for 20 years.“I’m proud to join the Hispanic Task Force and I look forward to continuing Senator Bingaman’s legacy. . .  said Sen. Heinrich. . . .

With their newfound interest in Hispanics, maybe Martin should ask Fox News to let him make his announcement there?


Following up on the Monday blog. The NYT says:

President Obama will use his State of the Union speech (tonight) to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives--drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world--after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third. 

But now we get this in:

President Obama isn't expected to announce any new proposals regarding nuclear disarmament during his State of the Union on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
The comments follow a New York Times report suggesting the president would use his annual address to Congress to build support for cutting the nation's deployed nuclear arsenal by about a third, to about 1,000 warheads.

ABQ business leader Sherman McCorkle tells us the 20 state group that he is helping to set up to protect the US nuclear budget has common interests and the funds we receive for our nuclear programs are not up for grabs. He offered as an example North Dakota which has numerous missile silos whereas New Mexico has none (or at least one anyone is aware of). We expressed concern Monday that going in with the other 19 states could dilute our effort.

A far as the overall funding for the defense and energy establishment here, we still believe the state needs a more concerted effort in DC to protect that funding.


Did you know this about Chuck Hagel, soon to be the US Secretary of Defense? It's from a meeting he had with Senator Tom Udall. Here's Udall:

During our conversation about New Mexico’s military bases, I was interested to learn that he was stationed at both White Sands and Fort Bliss before serving in Vietnam. He is well aware of the important contributions our bases make in our national security efforts, and spoke highly of the communities and geography --which are second to none for training.

Okay, that's a start.


Chris Garcia (ABQ Journal)
In his first public comment since the State Supreme Court gave him a big win in the prostitution case the state brought against him, former University of New Mexico President Chris Gracia responds to reader email that came in to the blog:
May I help “Reader John Bussanich” (a professor of philosophy at UNM) with his vision?  In your blog of February 8th he was quoted as writing that he “sees no lawsuit coming” and it was “hard to see” that I was defamed. 

From his comments, it is clear that he has either a prejudicial view of my situation or a lack of knowledge of US jurisprudence, or both. How can he possibly have insight into what actions, such as formal complaints or lawsuits, might be forthcoming? Certainly he only knows what the police allegations were and how those charges have been parroted and embellished by the muck-raking media. He cannot know if the APD investigation was flawed, nor how their allegations might have been exaggerated, distorted or even falsified.

He has not even been exposed to the defense’s side of the story. So he must be basing his suppositions solely on the prosecution’s allegations. Surely he must believe that those who are charged with breaking a law in the US have the right to present their side of the case against those levying the charges. How is Bussanich so certain that I was involved in trafficking “info concerning prostitution” without even hearing the other side of the case?

Does Bussanich not accept that one of the basic tenets of the US legal system is the presumption of innocence of the accused until and unless proven otherwise? Perhaps some knowledge of basic American judicial-legal theory might help clarify his vision.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Still More Challenges: Fresh Nuke Cuts Latest Sword To Hang Over State, Plus: More On Folks Movin' Out Of Here, Also: The "Fifth Floor" Back In The Headlines & Gay Doesn't Mean Wealthy  

No wonder Jeff Bingaman retired. The pressure continues to mount on the state's congressional delegation. Their latest wake-up call comes with the confirmation that the USA's nuclear weapons arsenal could be cut by as much as a third. Good news for world peace can mean bad news for New Mexico's already beaten down economy. A cut of that size is estimated to save "billions of dollars." That puts Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs and their 25,000 employees and contractors squarely in the cross hairs of the budget-cutters.

The state's newbie delegation was bolstered a bit by the news that Senator Udall will be on the Senate Appropriations Committee, but this kind of weapons reduction would even challenge the skills of veterans like Senator Bingaman and the also long gone Senator Domenici. But it is Obama proposing the cuts. He carried the state twice with big numbers. And we have a large Hispanic population--the newly coveted voting block. Sounds like some stuff our reps could put to use.

Also hurting the cause--as we see it--is the refusal of Governor Martinez and Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela to get squarely in front of the budget-cutting locomotive and let Washington know we will fight--even if we are the David in a David vs. Goliath battle. By not doing so, we are just making it easier for DC to do its damage.

The Santa Fe administration seems to have handed over the battle to that old reliable Sherman McCorkle. The ABQ GOP business leader did great work in helping save ABQ's Kirtland Air Force Base in the 90's, but this time around his effort to avoid the budget blade seems diluted:

McCorkle, , , has organized a group of nearly three dozen community leaders from across the country to lobby in Washington for New Mexico’s labs and other defense-related nuclear institutions across the country. “We want to provide education about the importance of the nuclear capabilities America currently has. We’re focused on educating and providing meaningful information.” McCorkle said his group doesn’t have a name yet but will register as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and include members from at least 20 states, including New Mexico, that have contractors or other interests at Sandia and Los Alamos.

20 states? There's really only one we care about in this mess and that's ours but ABQ business leader McCorkle tells us the 20 state group that he is helping to set up to protect the US nuclear budget has common interests and the funds we receive for our nuclear programs are not up for grabs. He offered as an example North Dakota which has numerous missle silos whereas New Mexico has none (or at least one anyone is aware of. 

As for the overall future funding for defense and energy in the state, the DC crowd will tell you what we need is a singular effort focused on the unique contributions New Mexico has made to national security and a reminder of its historic standing as first among equals when it comes to getting a slice of the pie.


In case you've been caught in a Boston blizzard and haven't heard, the new economic paradigm in Santa Fe is that massive federal budget cuts are inevitable and that we must replace the jobs and cash lost with private sector offerings. This fantasy continues despite the fact that the state is back in recession (as noted by NMSU economist Chris Erickson) and job creation here ranks among the worst in the nation. In fact, we have negative job growth just like you get during a recession.

Martinez and Barela may be right that New Mexico's 70 year tenure as a federal colony may be slowly fading, but their acquiescence and pleas of powerlessness contrast starkly with the leaders who preceded them.


We're a bit taken aback by the amount of email we are getting about this next story. We thought everyone knew. But apparently not. We blog of New Mexico's standing as a state that people are fleeing. According to the annual United Van Lines annual report, we rank #5 among the 50 states for folks pulling up their stake and heading for what they hope are greener pastures. The story hit several weeks ago, but a new report on it from Forbes ignited another round of anguished email about just what is happening to our fair New Mexico.

It is shocking. Can you think of any other time in your lifetime when the state had more people moving out than in? We are in the booming Sun belt, aren't we?

We wager to say this is one of the biggest stories of our time and as the cold reality sinks in it will intensify the debate over our economic future.


We are starting to get in hard numbers on the migration out of the state. From the Four Corners:

San Juan County’s population is on the decline, according to an annual estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau. From April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011, the county’s population went from 130,044 to an estimated 128,200, a 1.4-percent decrease.  County government officials said a decrease may signal that people are moving out of the area in search of jobs. A population decrease would reduce local government’s tax revenue which may lead to a decrease in services . . .

We've blogged in recent years of how San Juan has been slammed by the bear market in natural gas prices. Maybe some of those leaving the Farmington area head to the SE NM oil fields where the bull market continues in the oil industry, but no doubt many are outta here.

Judging by the sluggish reactions to the ongoing spate of this kind of awful economic news, it is going to take a crisis atmosphere to get New Mexico and its business and political leaders to fully embrace the new reality and start dealing with it. As nice as it sounds, it is much more complicated than cutting taxes. The campaign for ABQ mayor this year would be a good starting point for the discussion--if we get much of a campaign.


A couple of our Alligators speculated that Guv Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey (Aka the 5th Floor) could start using his friend and fellow consultant Adam Feldman as his front-man now that Jay has become radioactive. That speculation was confirmed over the weekend when the paper hit with a piece that noted that Feldman's Red Tag Strategies had set up a Super PAC that went negative on ABQ school board candidates in this month's election.

Feldman used to work with McCleskey and is a former executive director of the state GOP who came here from the hills of Kentucky. GOP Alligators peg him as Jay's water boy. We blogged not too long ago that it was thought that Feldman would be headed back to Kentucky to work politics there, but he's still here and playing.

McCleskey has become a lightning rod and way too much of a public figure for a political consultant. You know he would like a lower profile, especially after he was taken to the woodshed by former NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates Jr.

McCleskey's PAC spent millions last year--mostly unsuccessfully--to defeat state legislative Dems, as well as a few Republicans.

Even Republican friendly school board member Kathy Korte was not buying Feldman's denial that Jay was his puppeteer. She said that it was Jay pulling the strings and doing the hits which included an attack on a candidate for not supporting the Guv's "social promotion" bill. That's the one that would hold back third graders who were not reading proficient. Korte said:

I just read those mailers . . . and they've got the key words "social promotion" . . . so there's no doubt in my mind. . . . that there's Jay McCleskey behind those mailers. And it angers me...

Well, Kathy, the Alligators have no doubts either.  Now it's up to the mainstream media--always arguing for transparency--to try to track any money flow between Feldman and McCleskey.


Meanwhile, the political community continues to wonder if the ABQ Journal is sharing too much sack time with Susana and Jay. This report from the Santa Fe Reporter puts an accent on the issue:

An article published online by the Albuquerque Journal, "AG: Governor Wrongfully Withheld Emails," was revised before print publication to strike a decidedly softer tone toward the state's chief executive."AG Tells Gov. To Reconsider Email Response" reads the new headline. The revisions offer a unique window into the editing process at New Mexico's largest daily newspaper.

Attorney General King is seeking the 2014 Dem nomination for Governor. There is no love lost between him and the paper's editors.

But it is not debatable that the Governor has had a soft ride with the state's media and with a few exceptions it continues. Martinez's minions have been aggressive in pressuring the managers and even the owners of broadcast outlets here. The Journal less so as its inclination in recent years has been decidedly Republican and conservative.

But they also loved Big Bill for a number of years. And we all know what happened to that


The Guv is certainly getting a break on coverage of emailgate--the release of hundreds of emails from her campaign email account that raised allegations of bid-rigging for the racino lease at the Downs at ABQ. It also raised the issue of a massive amount of state business being conducted via private email and out of the sight of the public. But hardly anyone is talking about that now. Instead, the FBI took an aggressive tone in a just released December letter to Attorney General King concerning whether emails he released were stolen and warning that their release may have violated federal law. They say they are investigating.

So maybe we have two possible stories here--an illegal hacking of an email account and bid-rigging. Are the Feds (and the press) going to get to the bottom of each story? Or just one?


Reader David Stocum, Executive Director of the New Mexico GLBTQ Centers in Las Cruces and Gallup, writes:

In your blog last Thursday reader Jim McClure stated: "Also, make New Mexico even more gay-friendly. Sounds goofy, but when my hometown of Oak Park, IL, got a reputation as a gay-friendly community we saw an influx of DINKs (double income, no kids) who bought upscale homes and started businesses. Legalizing gay marriage could be an economic plus for New Mexico."

While I agree with Jim that marriage equality would be an economic plus for New Mexico, I would like to correct the misconception it would bring an influx of "DINKs." Increasingly, the lgbt community is having children. More lesbians, gay men and bisexuals either have kids, foster kids or are adopting kids than ever before. My partner and I are foster parents. It can longer be assumed that a same-sex couple. . . does not have or want kids.

It is true there are some very wealthy lgbt people but we are not all double income comfortable. The Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School states in Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community:

"Twenty-four percent of lesbians and bisexual women are poor, compared with only 19% of heterosexual women. (It’s not that gay and bisexual men aren’t poor, but their poverty rates are roughly equal (13%) to those of heterosexual men.)"  We are no more or less wealthy that the general population.

Quality of life, including lgbt life, is a major factor for many companies looking to establish new locations. So yes, making New Mexico more gay friendly makes economic as well as moral sense. By the way, fairness and equality never sounds goofy.


Former ABQ GOP State Rep. Rory Ogle passed away over the weekend. He had a pretty wild ride, headlining La Politica back in 2004 when he became embroiled in a domestic violence case and decided not to seek re-election to his NE Heights seat. Rory was an astute observer of the political scene and often emailed us with his perspective. He loved the USA and New Mexico. Ogle was 58 and died from complications from pneumonia. Services will be held at 9:30 AM, Friday at French Funerals, 10500 Lomas Blvd NE.

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