Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On The Econ Beat: ABQ Still Stuck In Recession, Renters Feel Worst Of It, NM GOP Staffs Up And Our Water Debate Continues 

No, the ABQ recession/stagnation has not been wished away. The drip, drip drip of a downsizing economy is keeping us in an official recession, the only major metro in the USA to have that dishonor, says the latest Brookings Institution report:

The metro area remains farther away from pre-recession peak employment levels than any other in the region," the report said. The city was the only one in the report to see its output contract for the fourth quarter, by a small but noticeable 0.2 percent. As a whole, the U.S. saw an increase in output of 0.7 percent for the quarter.

The full ABQ report here It shows we currently rank 100th out of 100 metro areas in recovering from the economic downturn. The glimmer of good news is the increase in health care jobs.

And if you're a renter you may know about this. CNN reports that because incomes here have fallen so much the past five years, we are one of the worst places in the USA for apartment dwellers:

In some areas, rents may not have gone up astronomically, but income has actually declined, heightening the disparity. It is particularly glaring in Albuquerque, where rents have increased 10% in the past five years. But income in the metro area declined 12% in the period. It's a similar story in Providence, RI, Omaha, Tuscon and New Orleans, where income is falling even as rents rise.

This is a city that has flat-lined and the Legislature's crash and burn over the $264 million capital outlay bill isn't helping. Neither is reluctance of the state government to dig into hundreds of millions of unspent funds that are sitting there. The Governor's office says:

Most of the money identified is encumbered, meaning it is not available to be spent elsewhere, appropriated for a specific purpose. Even the best-planned projects are developed and built in phases, where expenditures often occur over a period of years as it is completed.

But what is "most of the money?" There is $1.2 billion in unspent capital outlay sitting there. Exactly how much is "encumbered" and how much can we put to use now to provide jobs and stimulate this moribund metro economy? Is it $500 million? $50 million?

And how about Santa Fe getting off its butt and and speeding up the spending of the "encumbered" money on the projects it was intended for?  Our construction companies could provide badly needed work for hundreds, if not thousands. Gosh. we really work hard at being 50th, don't we?. . .


NM GOP Chair Debbie Maestas must have found some money because she's staffing up at party headquarters:

The staff hires include Robert Talbot as executive director, Todd Johnson as political director, Natalie Offenbecher as finance director and Patrick Garrett as communications director.

 Talbot. . . was the RNC State Director in Arkansas. Johnson has worked . . . on the Allen Weh for US Senate Campaign—specializing in grassroots organization.  Offenbecher is a veteran of several campaigns in California. 

Garrett was the press secretary for the House Republicans during the legislative session. 

It's not expected that the '16 presidential race will be in play in Blue New Mexico but there will be that battle for control of the NM House and Senate. There are no signs yet that any of the three US House races will be competitive.


Is it "impossible" to sort out who owns what water rights in the Mid-Rio Grande Valley? That was the contention made by an expert in a recent news article. We wondered about that and heard from ABQ's Bill Turner, another expert who makes his livelihood from sorting out the ownership of water rights. He tells us:

Determination of the ownership of water rights is quite simple. We do it every day. Some are more difficult than others. Where it becomes difficult is where county records offices have burned down and land title records have become lost. However, these problems can be overcome from old title abstracts, old census data, and old maps where ownership is identified. . .  

Our firm has more than 70 successful water rights transactions where we have confirmed validity of water rights and ownership. Our advice to the public is keep a file on your property, title documents, tax documents, water records and research them as far back as you can go. . . The State Engineer is requiring much more site specific proof of water rights and title documents.

That reminds us that in the 19th century it was thought that it would be nearly impossible to sort out ownership of the Spanish land grants. But it was done--maybe not fairly or even legally--but it was done.


Readers correct our first draft on that emailgate lawsuit we posted yesterday. There are a total of six defendants, not three. And one of our Legal Beagles comes with this:

You mentioned the "charges" that were dismissed against Anissa Ford and the still pending "charges" against her co-defendants. The word "charges" implies that she and her co-defendants were being charged with crimes when actually the case is a civil case in which various "claims" are made against the defendants.

Thanks for that. Corrections made. It's always helpful to have the Legal Beagles on the trail.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign