Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Can ABQ "Reinvent" Its Economy Or Is What You See What You Get; Biz Leaders Awaken To Debate, Plus: NM Dem Party Getting New Faces As Udall Gets Serious, And: Santa Rosa And The Roast Beef Burrito 

Can ABQ's economy be "reinvented" or is what you see pretty much what you get for the foreseeable future? Business groups--reeling from federal cutbacks in the metro as well as an inability to attract new jobs--will put their heads together in a two hour panel discussion Thursday as they finally acknowledge the epic downturn here that has led to stagnant population growth, sluggish economic activity and a growing social conditions crisis.

They may not say this at their meeting, but business leaders here confront a city with growing swaths that resemble wastelands and a city more divided than every between the haves and have nots.

More observers are concluding that replacing the high-paying Federal jobs and contracts that have been the backbone of the ABQ economy for nearly 75 years may be a pipe dream. Allen Parkman, professor emeritus from the UNM Anderson School of Management, sums up this line of thinking:

. . .Unless a Microsoft or an Apple pops up out of the blue, this is not the place for economic activity. You produce goods either where the consumers are or where the workers are, and we aren’t any of those. If you are Tesla and you are thinking of coming here and you want 2,000 moderately well-qualified workers, are they here? I don’t think so. The problem for New Mexico, Parkman said, is its remoteness and small population. Parkman isn’t so high on tech transfer from New Mexico’s national laboratories either. “It’s interesting how little spin-off we have ever received. We are not Silicon Valley. . . “In terms of a [decision] to [relocate or expand a company], if you have a blank slate this ain’t the place where it is going to go.”

As the Federal cash is cut the new jobs coming on line are primarily those in the low-paying service sector.

It doesn't seem accidental that since the onset of the Great Recession (we are about the only place still in it) we have seen the ABQ police department spiral out of control as it confronts a tougher criminal element spawned by the economic retrenchment. Add to that the outbreak of extreme child abuse cases and  the depopulation of the metro by many of its best and brightest and you have enough to fill 200 hours of brainstorming--never mind two.


The state Democratic Party and its chairman Sam Bregman have been taking hits ever since he took over for failing to live up to expectations that "a storm is coming" for Governor Martinez. But now with only months before the election and everything on the line--the governorship and the state House--it appears Dem US Senator Udall has stepped in to step things up at the moribund party. A new executive director has just been hired and two data experts will soon be on board. Udall leads the ticket this year as he seeks a second term and if he wasn't going to do something, who would?

The new ED is Jon Lipshutz who most recently handled the Dem Guv campaign of Howie Morales. In 2012, Lipshutz, 35, was a key player for the Dems in the state House battle. The party picked up two seats in that presidential year. This year the Dems face a battle for outright control of the House.

 "These changes that are taking place in the party show that we are gearing up and ready to fight. There are stark contrasts between our candidates and those of the Republicans. We'll be showing them," declared Lipshutz.

He replaces Lissa Knudsen in the post who is admired by party stalwarts, but one consultant said she is not a "wartime consigliere" and clearly this is war.

In the background for Udall and the Dems are some of the usual suspects who have had their share of political success---Dan Sena, Amanda Cooper and Dave Contarino. Republicans are counting on Martinez political adviser and veteran GOP campaign consultant Jay McCleskey to lead them to the victory circle. He has assumed control of not only the Martinez re-election campaign but also the GOP strategy to win control of the House.


A number of consultants say national labor unions are going to play might hard in NM to prevent a GOP state House takeover. The fear for the Dems was that no one really cared. One Dem consultant says the national unions came with $180,000 to seed a political action committee for the House races "because they don't want this to become another Wisconsin" where a Republican governor has run roughshod over the unions in a Democratic state.

The R's could spend upwards of $2 million to win the House, but with the union backed Partiot Majority Fund and Speaker Ken Martinez's political action committee, it appears the Dems will be outspent but not outgunned. . .

The campaign of Dem Guv candidate Gary King is telling the unions that they need to play in the governor's race. It warns that if Martinez is allowed to tote up a big victory it could have a coattail effect in key House races. King only had $116,000 in cash recently, compared to $4.3 million for Martinez.


And now the important stuff. Our quest for an ABQ roast beef burrito--not a Santa Fe one--led readers to suggest the Copper Lounge and the Burrito Lady in the NE Heights who says her New Mexican dishes are "Santa Rosa style." We wanted verification. From Santa Rosa comes the official word from Christiana Campos at Joseph's Bar and Grill on historic 66:

I just read your story on the Burrito Lady--Consuelo Flores from Santa Rosa. She is a dear friend of the family and actually grew up right across the street from Joe and the Campos family. Joe and I eat there every chance we get, and are never disappointed. I can certainly attest to the deliciousness of her burritos, especially my favorite the chicken and calabacita burrito. Joe prefers the carne adovada burrito.

 She also serves some sinfully rich homemade brownies, but get them before they're gone! I wanted you to know that as Santa Rosans, and as restaurateurs, we wholeheartedly enjoy and recommend the Burrito Lady's Santa Rosa home style and delicious food!

Thanks, Christina, The Burrito Lady it is, but only Tuesday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. And no credit cards--cash only. Who said getting an ABQ roast beef burrito would be easy?

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