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Monday, February 02, 2015

Top NM Abortion Foe Retreats; Throws In Towel On Late-Term Ban; The Politics Behind The Move, Plus: Bear Market Signs Abound In ABQ And Elsewhere, And: Guv's Machine Hits Korte As APS Election Looms  

So the NM House gets taken over by the GOP and the anti-abortion movement backs off fighting for a ban on late-term abortion. No wonder the party struggles with a rebelling grassroots wing. We've obtained the back-off memo written by Dauneen Dolce, longtime executive director of NM Right to Life:

Timing is of the essence. . . If we cannot pass two bills which do not stop an abortion but gives information which in both cases reduce abortion, how do we expect to pass a ban to an abortion? (In the past) we made progress by being able to pass bills in the state House, but there are two houses, and the Senate does not have the same climate. . . So we must “build” on our successes to get to the point of passing the more “difficult” legislation. Wanting to pass it (late-term abortions), which we all want, just doesn’t happen quickly. When it fails, it becomes more difficult to pass it the next round. It will be addressed in the future. . . 

But Dolce's membership gives considerable time, money and votes to the pro-life cause. They may not expect the late-term ban to pass, but they want it introduced as it is every year--and fought for by GOP legislators, not buried in a committee. Unlike those past years, so far no late-term ban has been introduced.

In DC, House Republicans this month had to back off a vote on a late-term abortion ban when female GOP representatives objected. Which leads us to the politics. . .

The pro-life crowd is being trumped by the Governor and her political machine who want nothing to do with tough anti-abortion stands as she pursues a national political spot. They dread the prospect of political chaos over the matter as was seen in the DC spat. Also, the state House Republicans are trying to put a "reasonable" face on their leadership and not scare the beejesus out of everyone. And that's the way it is.

RACINO CHATTER

Senior Alligator info: SunRay Park and Casino appears poised to ask the state to allow it to move its racino out of Farmington and over to Clovis where it could benefit from all that Texas traffic. The Four Corners is in a long term recession because of the plunge in oil and gas prices and has added Native American casinos that eat into SunRay.

If SunRay makes a move to bail on the forlorn Four Corners, will it hire racino fixer and attorney/lobbyist/GOP national committeeman Pat Rogers? Stay tuned.

As for that Farmington economy, the bear market in oil and gas has set off a new round of mauling:

"We've had a large number of people — close to 200 people in the last month — that were laid off from different organizations that are either [oil] producers or provide some of the support behind the rigs," said Kim Carpenter, executive officer of San Juan County. Although San Juan County is a bigger contributor to the natural gas sector, oil production still factors into the economy and employment in the area. He estimates there are between 160 to 200 jobs per drilling project, so when rigs shut down it affects more than just those drilling.

2015 was shaping up as the year when the economy started poking its head above water but it keeps getting shoved back down. Experts expect the SE NM oil patch to also experience lost jobs--and lost tax revenue to the state--as oil prices scrape along the bottom.

THE ABQ BEAR

Here in ABQ job growth is near nil, according to the state as well as federal census reports. The announcement from the popular Flying Star restaurant chain that it has filed for bankruptcy is another sour reminder that the ABQ Bear is alive, well and feeding:

With an outstanding debt of more than $6.2 million, Albuquerque-based Flying Star Cafe filed for a Chapter 11 business reorganization and closed two of its restaurants. “This is a challenging market we have here,” said Jean Bernstein, co-owner of the 28-year-old company with husband, Mark. “It has really accelerated our need to make sure we have no underperforming stores.” Underperforming restaurants in Bernalillo and Santa Fe forced the move, Bernstein said, and both were shut down.

The report adds that Flying Star's debt is expected to soar past that $6.2 million level, indicating its ABQ operations are also taking a hit in this economy. Another factor for the chain's problems could be their prices.

We've heard more and more complaints in recent years of soaring prices at the chain, combined with skimpier portions. In other words, they may have priced many of their patrons out of the market--patrons dealing with lower incomes or lost jobs. F. Star's PR arm doesn't expect the owners to put up a for sale sign, but we would not dismiss the possibility.

THE SOCORRO BEAR

As we've blogged over the course of this secular economic downturn it is rural NM that is really getting hammered. In Socorro, hometown of new state House GOP Speaker Don Tripp, we noted the recent closing of a major auto dealership. Valerie Kimble writes from Socorro with more:

Monette Ford, in business for 51 years, was not the only Socorro business to close its doors. Denny's, on the city's main drag, also shut down recently, supposedly due to the cost of remodeling the building to meet franchise standards, the same fate that caused KFC to close some years ago. The building that housed Denny's was at one time a Hobo Joe's . . . There's also talk that at least one other food service operation will go out of business this year. Makes for a grim-looking landscape on Socorro's California St. Meanwhile, another dollar store is due to open. What does that say about the local economy?

Stimulus, Mr. Speaker, stimulus.

MACHINE HITS KORTE

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As we blogged Dec. 18 we fully expected the Guv's political machine to unleash withering attacks on one of its most dreaded foes--ABQ School Board member Kathy Korte.

Since then there has been a veritable fusillade of attacks  on Korte from the machine-friendly press, in the mailboxes and at school board meetings where fellow board members have turned on the outspoken Korte.

Her husband, Tim Korte, a spokesman for a state agency, even lost his job. His wife's determined opposition to the administration is suspected as the reason by everyone with an IQ over 55.

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We've posted a hit piece against Korte here. It is one of several the Guv's political machine has engineered with the help of Red Tag strategies--a well-known arm of the machine. Korte is fighting back with her own mailers.

The election is tomorrow and a defeat of Korte--an independent who has opposed Martinez's teacher evaluation and student testing initiatives--would obviously be a win for the governor.

A Korte victory over machine favored Republican Peggy Muller-Aragon would keep Korte front and center as a leading opponent of Martinez and her education policies.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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