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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Mexico On Another List And You Know What That Means, Plus: Fresh Stats On State Depopulation, And: Berry Administration Pays $8 Million In Police Shooting Suit So Where's The Mayor? 

More grist for the political mill this legislative session and election year. It's another of those lists and you know what that means for us.

According to a study by 24/7 Wall Street New Mexico is the 49th worst managed state in the USA:

New Mexico ranked as the second worst-run state in the country, scoring better than California by only a small margin. . . The state was among the worst 10 for violent crime, high school graduation rates among adults, and health insurance coverage. More than one in five residents lived below the poverty line in 2012, worse than all states but Mississippi. Last year, state GDP grew by just 0.2%, worse than all but a handful of states.

The state did get good rankings for its fiscal health.

This social conditions crisis has led to what we think is the most startling development of the 21st century in New Mexico--the trend toward depopulation:

New Mexico had an outmigration of 8,809 people in the 12 months that ended July 1, and was the only state in the region to suffer a net outflow of residents, the U.S. Census Bureau said. The state lost 10,526 people to other states and gained 1,717 people from other countries. It was one of 17 states that saw outmigrations during the period.. . .In the roughly three years between April 2010 and July 1, 2013, New Mexico saw a net outmigration of 9,750 people. During that time the state lost 15,587 residents to other states and gained 5,837 people from other countries.

It's so depressing, maybe we need to laugh about it. Former ABQ state Sen. Eric Griego sends this:

Working Classroom announced its fourth annual Roundhouse Comedy Revue, an evening of original comedy poking fun at the personalities, politics and policies of the legislative session. This year’s show will premier at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 29 at The Lodge at Santa Fe, 750 N. St. Francis Drive with a second show Saturday, February 1 at the Paul Carpenter y Salazar Theater at 423 Atlantic SW in ABQ. . . This Revue features a mock Democratic Gubernatorial primary debate. . . Tickets available here or (505) 242-9267. . . 

GUN BAN

State Senator Peter Wirth says he wants a rule that bans guns from the Senate chambers, hallways and committee rooms with exceptions for law enforcement. Nice try, Peter. But John Arthur has other means to get you to vote for his tax cuts...

BERRY PAYS UP

ABQ Mayor Berry's city attorney says this is in the best interest of taxpayers:

The police shooting of Iraq War veteran Kenneth Ellis III would cost the city of Albuquerque nearly $8 million under the terms of a tentative settlement reached with the family. The city agreed to settle for $7.95 million. In March last year, a jury reached a $10.3 million verdict, but the city appealed. There could have been attorney fees and interest on top of the jury award.

And millions more to come as a result of the police shooting spree. So how come the newspaper and TV stations don't have Mayor Berry talking to us about this? Why are his underlings allowed to provide him media cover on this and other controversial stories? It is the Mayor who is ultimately accountable for the city of Albuquerque government, but that's only true if he is held accountable.

RAISES FOR ALL

Jeff Varela is the former director of the State Personnel Office and he writes to say he doesn't like the Governor's proposal to give only certain state employees pay raises:

Gov. Martinez is either unaware or disregards what her State Personnel Office says in the annual compensation report. . . Salary ranges for state employees are significantly behind the regional market. That's on top of employees not receiving increases in take-home pay since 2006. The over 22,000 state employees as well as public and higher education employees are major contributors to the economy, yet the Governor's budget targets only certain employee classifications for salary increases. Governor, targeting certain employees for salary increases and disregarding the rest of your workforce is far from any sensible and fair strategy.

UP WITH WESTERN

We opined recently opined that in light of serious financial problems at Western New Mexico University in Silver City it may finally be time for New Mexico to get serious about a constitutional change that would consolidate the stat's sprawling university stem into two schools--UNM and NMSU. Judging by our email, that won't be easy anytime soon. A reader who works at WNMU writes:

WNMU's financial woes aren't the by-product of a collapsing education market or the decline of regional universities. The current leadership banked its strategy of creating new faculty and administrative posts on a 5% increase in enrollment. Since enrollment only grew modestly, the university found itself in a bind and probably should have taken action when the problem became apparent last fall. Fundamentally, enrollment grew, just not enough to match budget expenditures. This is not a structural problem for WNMU or for any of New Mexico's regional universities--it's a problem of counting your chickens before they hatch, or any of the other metaphors that might fit here. NMSU and UNM are prone to the same problems periodically, and they also have a lousy reputation for serving rural areas.

Reader Valerie Kimble takes that same view:

Gotta’ disagree with you on closing all the state’s four-year schools except UNM and NMSU. Excuse me, but where is New Mexico Tech in that  equation? Last I heard, NMT is a science and engineering researchuniversity, and it’s doing lots of things better than the Big Boys who  get all the ink. Yes, as an NMT employee and Tech graduate, I'm biased as all get-out--but it's bias based on facts and experience. Most of our students are so geeky, they make Big Bang's Sheldon look like a frat boy by comparison--yeah, they're *that* smart!

Well said, Valerie, but you shot over our heads with the "Big Bang" reference. Where can we enroll to get re-educated in pop culture?

THE BOTTOM LINES

From Arizona politics to the Roundhouse comes Paul Stull. The Credit Union Association of New Mexico has named Stull as its new chief executive officer. He has played a role in the Coalition for Credit Union Access, a ballot initiative to defeat payday lending in Arizona. He was named Arizona Political Advocate of the Year in 2010....

We blogged Monday that a poll conducted this month on legalizing marijuana was commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance. That was incorrect. The poll was paid for by ABQ Dem Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino who is sponsoring a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide if they want to legalize pot.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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