Thursday, December 04, 2014

Where's The Buzz? Post-Election Period Has Been A Long Siesta; A Wake-Up Call Is In Order, Plus: The Rolling Stones La Politica Connection 

It has been one long post-election siesta. A month has passed since the November balloting but the only buzz you hear is that of the chainsaws cutting down Christmas trees. Gov. Martinez has said nothing of her second term plans. House Republicans, freshly in command of the lower chamber, are also staying mostly mum. Even the rumor mill has ground to a halt. . .

Maybe we'll be surprised but we don't expect any groundbreaking announcements between now and the beginning of the 2015 legislative session. Minimalism is the hallmark of the Martinez administration and we expect the next four years to reflect the last four. The usual suspects--with a few additions--will be trotted out: repeal driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, a bill to hold back under performing third graders and an attempt to get a right to work law passed now that the GOP has padded its muscles. . .

Maybe this New Mexico era should be dubbed "The Great Stagnation." With a bear market now embracing the energy markets--the one sector of the state economy that has been really jumping--the title seems more than apropos. . .

While mum is the word from the political classes, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of good ideas floating on how The Great Stagnation could be chipped away at. Reader Wendy Connors comes with a provocative list to spark our semi-jobless economy. She calls it: Jobs, jobs jobs!

--Almost $17 billion sitting idle in the state's Permanent Funds. The state does not need to hoard so much money. 

--Build a public broadband Internet of at least 1 Gb. This will help entice businesses to move to New Mexico. 

--Fully fund pre-K to ensure our children get a good start to their lives. At the same time, eliminate the drop-out rate for students by making it a law that if you can't complete high school, you are not mature enough to have a driver's license. 

--Instead of having rest stations on our interstate highways that are a couple of miles from major towns, lets build rest stations every 40 miles along the routes many tourists use to visit our great state. 

--Move the State Fairgrounds to ABQ's Westside. All new buildings, etc. Our State Fair's present location is a traffic and pedestrian nightmare. 

--Enlarge facilities for a new training and command center for fighting New Mexico wild fires.

--Expand the RailRunner  to Las Cruces. 

--Expansion of very low income housing units to help eliminate homelessness. Also, oversight to ensure that residents get a fighting chance to improve their lives. 

--Build a new hospital, clinic and research facility for needs of developmentally disabled citizens.

--Enlarge our city parks. More tables, playground equipment, etc. Replace old, damaged trees with water conserving new ones. 

--Build four large Agora's. One for each quadrant of Albuquerque for people to have yard sales, political rallies, etc. 

Thanks, Wendy. New Mexico is having a fairly good conversation over its education plight, but when it comes to the economy we seem stuck. Old bromides like cutting taxes and regulations dominate. Your list reminds the politicos that we don't have to wait around for a Tesla to rescue us. We can renew ourselves. . .


Joe Monahan
As for that conversation, maybe it's starting to turn. A lot of smart people are working on it. From the AP:

New Mexico. . . is second, behind Mississippi, in the percentage of its residents living in poverty--a percentage that increased from 20.8 percent in 2012 to 21.9 percent in 2013, Census figures show. It also consistently ranks at or near the bottom of national rankings for education and child welfare.

"What this state really needs to advance economically is workforce training and education that is at least as good as what the surrounding states have," New Mexico State University economist Jim Peach said.

Economists and activists say New Mexico has trouble attracting new industries for two major reasons: widespread poverty and low education levels. A study. . . by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that more than half of New Mexico families with children under the age of 8 are low-income, about one-third of the families are headed by a single parent and more than 10 percent of the families include parents who don't have high school diplomas.

New Mexico may be in a tough spot, but I firmly believe we're only one or two really good leaders away from getting out of it. Who will they be?. . .


How about this? Bobby Keys, for decades the saxophonist for the Rolling Stones and who passed away at the age of 70 Tuesday, was a New Mexican. Reader Carroll Cagle has the story:

Joe, I spoke with former Lt. Governor Mike Runnels, who knew both former NM state Senator Lucy Keys Brubaker and Bobby Keys. He confirmed that Keys was indeed her son and that he was from Belen. Mike said that in the den of her home she had several gold records on the wall that Bobby had sent her. Mike also said he once hosted Keys as his guest on the podium of the state senate when Mike was lieutenant governor.

I read that Keys, in his earlier years, played with Buddy Holly from Lubbock but who recorded at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis. Runnels tells me Keys also later played with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton at times, before joining up with the Stones.

As for Senator Lucy Keys Brubaker, she also served as Valencia County clerk, treasurer and assessor. Quite the lady. She passed away in 2000 at the age of 73.

Thanks to Carroll and Mike for those memories of La Politica.

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