Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Mexico And The Downsized Military, The Latest On The Evolving State House Chase, Construction Executives Depressed Over Construction Depression Here, Also: The State Senate And The Early Childhood Debate 

White Sands
Our DC insiders say it's the Army's White Sands Missile Range near Alamogordo and the Army's Fort Bliss near El Paso that they are keeping a close eye on in the wake of Defense Secretary Hagel's announcement that the Pentagon is proposing to shrink the nation's Army to its lowest level since the pre-WWII years when Eisenhower was emerging.

The state's Air Force installations--like ABQ's Kirtland Air Force Base--are not seen as threatened by the downsizing proposed for the nation's military and which will set off a battle in Congress. Our Potomac Alligators add that Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis could  benefit from the Pentagon's new strategy of relying more on Drones. Cannon now conducts military drone operations....

Speaking of Eisenhower, as we've noted a number of times here he was President when the NM GOP last held control of the state House, and news on that front continues. . . .

The talk thus far has mostly been about the vulnerability of the majority Dems to a Republican onslaught, but Dems have a shot at picking up a seat or two and keeping the GOP at bay.

Dem Joanne Ferrary fought Las Cruces GOP State Rep.Terry McMillan to a near tie in 2012, losing by only 8 votes. She says she's going to try to again defeat him. If she could take McMillan out, it could prove key to the Dems hopes of keeping the Speaker's gavel in the hands of Kenny Martinez. . . .

It was no surprise when ABQ South Valley Dem State Rep. Ernie Chavez announced Monday he won't seek re-election this year. The 77 year old has been ill and missed the entire '14 legislative session. City of ABQ employee Lorenzo Pino announced for the Dem nod for the Chavez seat even before Ernie made his retirement official. Now there's another player who a supporter claims has the inside track for the Dem nod for the Chavez seat:

Patricio Ruiloba has the inside track. He's a retired APD officer who worked security for APS at Atrisco Heritage. Solid guy. Strong ties to the community. Chairman of the board of Partnership for Community Action, local non-profit.

No R's need apply here. The seat is very heavy Dem.

Any more House retirements to come? Yes, we expect Rep. Phil Archuleta of Las Cruces to hang it up. Like Chavez, he missed the entire legislative session because of illness. As we previously blogged  insiders are mentioning Las Cruces City Councilor Nate Small as a possible Archuleta replacement. Andy Nunez, the former Dem state rep turned independent then turned Republican will try to claim the seat for the GOP.

There's lots of election action in ABQ's Vally area, isn't there? Ernie Chavez leaves, Rep. Kiki Saavedra retires as does Rep. Rick Miera. These fellas have all been around for years and their departures are rare opportunities for those seeking a seat at the Roundhouse.

All three seats are heavy D and will remain so. We expect a number of candidates to emerge on filing day March 11. Count Dem politico Sisto Abeyta as one of them. He announced  on social media that he will join the fray for the Dem nod for Kiki Saavedra's seat. There are now three contenders in that Dem race.


The economic Depression in the state and ABQ construction industry has gotten so pronounced that those most closely involved with it don't even want to talk about it. They are depressed about the Depression:

Kucinski, who has family ties to Albuquerque, ended up as the sole speaker at what originally was advertised as a panel discussion with local representatives of the construction sector. The panel discussion was scratched.“None of us were looking forward to sitting up here and talking about the construction industry,” explained Keven Yearout of Yearout Mechanical Inc. in Albuquerque, who originally was to be the panel moderator but ended up just introducing Kucinski as keynote speaker.

Maybe if Santa Fe had taken some of the $600 million in unspent capital outlay money and began ramping up spending on bridges, roads and the like, the would-be panelists would have something "constructive" to talk about?


A reader sent this newspaper clip to us about Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith:

Critics of the fiscally conservative chairman of the Senate Finance Committee portrayed the Deming Democrat as a stand-alone barrier to Senate consideration of a proposal to take more money from a permanent fund for early childhood programs. The Senate Finance Committee’s 8-2 vote to table the measure proved this implication to be simply not true.

Well, Senator Campos voted against the measure as a parliamentary maneuver so it could again be considered. He supports the constitutional amendment for early childhood. And Senator Carlos Cisneros has been a public supporter, but said he voted against it in committee because of what he considered personal attacks on Senator Smith. In a committee vote in 2012, he voted against tabling the amendment. Those two would make the vote 6 to 4 with Smith and Senator Munoz as the only Dems with real philosophical disagreement.

And it is common knowledge for even those with only a rudimentary understanding of the Legislature that the Senate has come to yield to Smith on just about all fiscal matters. If you ask the Senators--as we have--they will tell you just that. His power is especially pronounced in his committee where he can persuade members with favors or disfavor.

More important, in this effort to debunk the notion that Smith is not the chief obstacle to the early childhood amendment we are left to believe that there is widespread legislative opposition to the amendment (it has previously passed the full House) and that this opposition is somehow representative of the New Mexican public. Those implications are simply not true.

Unbiased polling shows the public is overwhelmingly in favor of the constitutional amendment--just as the ABQ public was for increasing the minimum wage when 66 percent voted for an increase. But this year state legislators refused to pass a statewide hike also broadly supported by the public.

It is Santa Fe and much of its long-in-the-tooth court that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of New Mexico, its economic malaise and its deepening social conditions crisis that this week includes a sexually abused and murdered four month old infant.

Why don't Senator Smith, the Senate Republicans and their stenographers simply say what they really believe? That for them the public can't be trusted with their Permanent Fund money. That they just don't get it. That elders like John Arthur need to protect the people (mostly Hispanic) from themselves. That the misery and suffering that makes this state 50th in just about everything would be even worse if the people who actually live here were listened to.


Wanna see the 5 Dem candidates for Governor joust on stage? Here's your chance:

The Bernalillo County Democratic Party is sponsoring a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum for the candidates for the Democratic Party ticket for governor. The date is Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The location is Carpenter's Hall, 3900 Pan American Freeway NE (at Comanche), 

The Dems state preprimary convention is Mar h 8, just three days after that forum. The five Guv candidates are hoping to each get at least 20 percent delegate support to earn an official spot on the June primary ballot. If they don't they can still get on by submitting additional petition signatures.

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