Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sanchez And Tripp Prepare For Power Playing, Plus: The Oil Bear Marches On And BernCo Conservatives Get A Win  

Sanchez & Tripp (Sr. Alligator photo)
Here's the first power shot of the duo who will lead the 2015 New Mexico Legislature. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez gestures to a deeply attentive and soon-to-be-New Mexico House Speaker Don Tripp as the two converse at a Belen senior citizen center. (Photo from a Senior Alligator).

Wonder what this intense conversation is about? There are a lot of lobbyists who would give their right arm to know.

For Sanchez of Belen being majority leader is old hat. What's different this time is having to prevent a handful of Martinez Democrats from defecting to the minority Republicans on key issues and forming a majority. It matters because the House is now Republican-controlled and will be sending over to the Senate some pretty conservative stuff.

Tripp of Socorro will be the first GOP House Speaker since 1953. The buzz in the Roundhouse has him well-respected but uncertainty still prevails about the extent of his power. Will young and aggressive Majority Leader Nate Gentry of ABQ cramp Tripp's style and try to take power that normally goes with the speakership? How would Tripp take to that? We hear there is already some grumbling going on in the House GOP caucus over possible committee assignments. What's up with that? Gentry is a longtime foot solider for the Guv's machine. It's he who they are most comfortable working their movidas through.

Sanchez is perhaps the most disliked Democrat by Republican Governor Susana Martinez. Her political machine tried to take him out in the 2012 election but Sanchez won easily.

There will be plenty of angles worth watching when Sanchez and Tripp assume their power positions January 20 for the 60 day session. And maybe plenty of drama.


Bobby Ortega of Questa as Deputy Land Commissioner under incoming Republican Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn? That's what we're hearing from this Gator:

Bobby Ortega from Questa will be his Deputy Commissioner / Chief of Staff.
Interesting choice from the North for Roswell-based Dunn. Banking connection?

Dunn is a retired banker. Ortega is executive vice-president for Centinel Bank of Taos. He's also president of the Kit Carson Electric Board of Trustees and a former mayor of Questa.


We're sensing some denial about what is going to happen in the New Mexico oil patch. It's been our experience that these bear markets are always much worse than anyone expects or is willing to entertain. Some news:

States dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oil prices may have on their local economies. The concerns are cutting across traditional oil states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska as well as those like North Dakota that are benefiting from the nation’s latest energy boom.

That NYT piece does not mention NM but it may as well have. Oil crashed below $54 a barrel Monday. That's $12 lower than NM is projecting for the budget year that starts next July. In the meantime, fill 'er' up!


A pretty big win for Bernalillo County conservatives.  Democrat Art De La Cruz of the county commission joined with Republican Wayne Johnson to spike pay raises for elected officials like sheriff and treasurer. The commissioners also declined to raise their own pay. The pay hike for the elected county officials died on a 2 to 2 vote. Republican Lonnie Talbert was absent. Johnson came out swinging:

Bernalillo County is in what can only be described as a fiscal crisis. Over the past two years we have imposed franchise taxes, increased property taxes for open space (previously funded by the general fund), have lost $17 million to risky investments, have patched a $24 million budget shortfall from reserves, and are now eyeing a $60 million tax increase that will affect every resident of Bernalillo County.

Do you think Wayne is running for ABQ mayor in '17?

While a number of Bernalillo County elected officials won't be getting a pay raise in the new year, many of those at the bottom of the pay scale are looking forward to a small--and badly need--increase. The minimum wage in the city of ABQ will go from $8.60 and hour to $8.75 when we move into 2015. That's because when voters approved a minimum of $8.50 an hour it included annual adjustments for inflation.

We don't recommend that the county officials who had their pay raises rejected try to ask voters to give them a raise. That would be as likely as a visit from Santa on December 26. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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