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Friday, April 04, 2014

A Long Second term Slog For ABQ Mayor As Economy Continues To Tank And APD Strife Persists, Plus: A New Mexican's Lament; One Of Those Leaving Tells His Story  

It's shaping up to be a very long second term slog for ABQ Mayor Richard Berry. Not only will he be facing years of strife over APD and the fatal police shootings, but the local economy seems to be worsening. Every time it seems the metro is about to start popping, back comes the never-ending Great Stagnation. The latest:

The ABQ metro area’s post-recession recovery in the fourth quarter remained one of the worst among the nation’s largest 100 metro areas, according to the Brookings Institution. . . The four-county area’s recovery rank was 94, compared to 88 in the third quarter. . .  “Job growth turned negative again. . . employment levels declined by .3 percent. ABQ has experienced one of the weakest job recoveries in the country, with employment levels closing 2013 only 1.3 percent above their post-recession lows.” 

The four-county metro area had a rank of 97 for its job growth rate since the recession. Housing prices are 1.1 percent above their lowest level during the recession, for a rank of 78. . .ABQ's unemployment rate has dropped 1.6 points from the high point, for a ranking of 93. . .

NEED MORE REASONS?

Another reason why the APD needs a Federal Monitor from the US Department of Justice to take full supervisory control of the agency--and why the media needs to start paving the way:

KRQE-TV news has been asking the Albuquerque Police Department repeatedly for the lapel cam video from the officer who fired at James Boyd first. That’s because there is something about that video that has the FBI’s attention. APD keeps insisting the public can’t see it because the Feds say so, but an FBI letter tells a different story. “Lapel videos from the police are public record,” said Greg Williams of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

And don't forget the lapel camera video from the fatal shooting of Alfred Redwine. APD also refuses to release it. The media seems to have forgotten about that one.

Want the stonewall to crumble? Get APD under the command of a Federal Monitor and the TV news departments will get APD video and more. Otherwise, this administration is going to try to continue to play them for fools.

KOB-TV has come with a few reports that reference the possibility of a federal takeover of APD. The phrase "Federal Monitor" is apparently on the taboo list at our newspaper.

GUV BEAT

On the Dem Guv beat, Attorney General King is joining other law enforcement agencies in launching an investigation into the shooting death of homeless camper James Boyd. The mentally ill man's killing by APD has become a national and international story. . . .Howie Morales says raise the minimum wage--not just to the $10.10 an hour you hear so much about--but to $11 an hour by 2017. . . Alan Webber comes with an endorsement he hopes will help. Former ABQ City Councilor Eric Griego says Webber is the "most progressive" Dem contender for Governor and has his vote. . .Governor Martinez has updated her campaign website as the Guv race starts to garner more attention. . .

A NEW MEXICAN'S LAMENT

You've heard here and elsewhere about how the dreary economy is forcing many to abandon their ties to ABQ and New Mexico and seek opportunity elsewhere. Longtime Dem political operative and PR consultant Chris Cervini, 39, is one of those who is heading to the exits. In an opinion piece he detailed his lament about the Land of Enchantment. The full post is here. Here's an abridged version:

My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I came back to New Mexico in 2002. . . Upon our return we were in the midst of a New Mexico on the move. Our friends included law students, accomplished grant writers, artists, Web-design people, physical therapists, actors and innovators. These were people who wanted to start businesses and generally build out this promising place. It was electric. But it wouldn’t last. One by one, people started to move away. The promise did not match the reality. People began bumping up into the age-old New Mexican syndrome of endless hand wringing and nay saying about how things can’t be done, rather than what might be possible.

I saw friends beating their heads against walls trying to make something happen but being grinded down by obstacles such as a lack of a real private economy. New Mexico was a place of hope and promise, but there was no real substance to it.Over time, nearly all our friends left seeking greener pastures and better opportunities.

We can’t lay all the blame at the feet of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. That crisis hit everyone, yet New Mexico remains bleeding on the floor while our neighbors are moving forward. . . 

Never mind that the basic underpinnings of our state’s economy remain unchanged, leaving us weaker and more vulnerable to the whims of oil and gas prices or government shutdowns.

Sadly, our state’s economy is almost completely propped up by extractive industries and government jobs. Make no mistake – they have both served us well, but they are not enough. The “sadly” is this: The permanence and historical success of those two sectors allow our policymakers and business leaders to be lazy.

My friends came to New Mexico in a period of historic high energy prices and government expansion – it made the state look rosier than it is. Once there is uncertainty or a hiccup in either of those sectors, the rosy picture evaporates and the ugly truth is revealed. New Mexico is a beautiful place to visit and, if you’re rich, buy a summer home. Otherwise, you’re in for a hard slog to try and get a bite out of a pie that never grows.

Politicians nibble at the edges. Republicans cut some taxes and say they’ve saved the economy; Democrats throw a bone to the film industry and say they’ve helped diversify the economy. Neither side gets it. The media is obsessed with stabbings, shootings, gore and, of course, pooh-poohing any unconventional idea that might shake things up.

Average New Mexicans? Well, we sit around and wait for something to happen. We’re resigned to a mindset of “what can’t be done” – because it’s all we’ve ever known. . ..

New Mexico will always be our home and we may someday return. But now, like all our friends who left, we are going to check out those greener pastures for a while and wish all New Mexicans peace and prosperity.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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