Thursday, February 19, 2015

Double Whammy For Right-To-Work; Stalls In GOP House And Top Senate Dems Throw A Boulder In Its Path, Plus: More Thin Blue Line And Some Media Notes 

Sens. Papen & Smith
Advocates for the hot button issue of right-to-work (RTW) suffered a double whammy at the Roundhouse Wednesday.

First, a strategic error by the House Republican leadership delayed sending the bill to the Senate for at least another week, and in the Senate two of its most powerful and respected Democrats threw a procedural boulder in its path.

We reported this week that House Majority Leader Nate Gentry's decision to slap an increase in the minimum wage onto RTW was getting stern push back from other GOP members who want nothing to do with it. Gentry's maneuver was meant to cause discomfort among Dems who voted against RTW, but it his backside that is now burning.

The discontent is such that a scheduled House vote on RTW Wednesday was cancelled as Gentry tried to put the pieces back together. But his strategic blunder came at a critical time and further slowed momentum for RTW which would ban compulsory union dues.

Meanwhile, in the Senate two of the chamber's titans--Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith and President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen--said they would have nothing to with a GOP plot to bypass the Senate committee system and "blast" RTW onto the Senate floor. Veteran Capitol reporter Steve Terrell opined that if that proves to be the case, blasting RTW looks nearly impossible:

To "blast" the bill, the move would have to get the votes of all 17 Republicans plus at least four Democrats. (That would make a 21-21 tie, which Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, a Republican, assumedly would break the tie in favor of the blast.) Without Smith and Papen, that number will be hard, if not impossible, to reach.

It was a good day for the unions and the Democrats but you have to remember that their previous compromises with the Martinez administration cost them control of the state House. If that hadn't happened, there would never be this heated discussion over RTW.


It is Leader Gentry's fingerprints all over the RTW mishap, not those of House Speaker Don Tripp. Santa Fe has been abuzz about any possible power struggle between the two. If there is one going on, this blunder plays into the hands of the Speaker. It won't be Tripp who gets blamed by the GOP base for losing the RTW battle. . .

State Rep. Dennis Roch, who ran against Gentry for majority leader, is the House sponsor of RTW. He was none too pleased with Gentry's minimum wage rider. Stay tuned.

Conservative Dem Senators Smith and Papen may not be for blasting RTW, but they gave every indication that if the bill somehow made it to the Senate floor without bypassing the committee system, they would vote for it.

The battle is not over and Majority Leader Michael Sanchez is going to need eyes in the back of his head for the remainder of the 60 day session.


The headlines keep coming, demonstrating how deep the economic slowdown has become in the ABQ metro. Look at this:

Findthehome.com ranks Albuquerque at 19th for the poorest cities in the country. The ranking is based on how many households earn less than $25,000 a year. It looked at 33 of the largest cities in the country. Twenty-six percent of Albuquerque households fall in that bracket.


A reader blogged in here this week with a photo of an APD cruiser sporting a thin blue  license plate and reported that they're on a number of cruisers. He wondered if that was a statement of sympathy for fellow officers or an "us vs. them" attitude when it comes to APD which is the subject of a Justice Department civil rights probe. This reader says the license plates are innocent--not nefarious:

I worked for APD and know multiple patrol officers and detectives with these plates. Please let your readers know, these plates are being displayed because of the amount of officers still at home recovering from being shot. The only us versus them happening with the officers displaying these plates is officers versus administration. If you think your readers are fed up with the lack of leadership within APD and the city, ask your nearest on-the-job cop off the record what they think of how the bosses behave. They'll give you an earful and it will make your head spin. That is, if they can stop long enough between calls for service to talk.

That's a point not often made--many APD officers are as fed up with the APD command and the city's political leadership as are the chief critics.


Veteran NM journalist Peter St. Cyr is now producing the daily news round-up The Morning Word--for the Santa Fe Reporter. . . Longtime reporter Mark Bentley is blogging the legislative session here. . . Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca continues his long-running blog here. He announced there that he is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

V.B. Price, writing about ABQ since the 50's, continues to write at the New Mexico Mercury, and in quite an eloquent way. . . Longtime ABQ Journal political editor John Robertson has been a fixture at legislative sessions since the 70's but he is missing this year. He is battling lung cancer. He blogs here. We wish him (and Mayor Baca) well.

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