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Monday, March 30, 2015

On The Econ Beat: State Population Continues To Slip But Jobs Pop, Fault-Finding Over Session, More On The Weed Watch And Death Comes To Bill Marchiondo, A Major Player Of La Politica 

Looks like we're going to have more elbow room:

Census figures (taken) between 2013 and 2014. . . showed the state lost 1,323 people. Said one economist: “A lot of the exodus is economically related. The economy is opening up in other places, and people are taking advantage of that. If the economy takes off, you have the potential of young, educated people coming in, but we don’t expect that happening anytime soon."

That makes you wonder about the huge Santolina project on ABQ's Westside. Developers are projecting 90,000 people could live there by 2050. Perhaps a lot of retirees but unless there's a jump in the state's population, Santolina could fast be saying sayonara. .

We are seeing some flowers pop up from the cement:

New Mexico notched its 13th consecutive month of over-the-year employment growth in February when the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6 percent, up from 5.9 percent in January but down from 6.7 percent in February 2014. The (state) says  the economy added 15,900 jobs from a year earlier for a 2 percent increase. . .The industries with the biggest February job gains were education and health services with 4,300 additional jobs.

After presiding over years of devastating job losses, the Martinez administration tried to take credit for the modest good news, saying its strategy of diversifying the economy was working and we need to stay the course. Well, a good deal of the job pop is because of the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. That would be those government jobs so dreaded by the administration. . .

But the champagne is still on ice when it comes to the jobs picture. Thousands of layoffs are expected in the next several months in the NM oil fields that have been hammered by low prices. For those who want to peel the onion, the research bureau of the Workforce Solutions Department has done a bang up job in this easy-to-understand and colorful guide that's chock full of charts and facts.

FAULT FINDING

Reaction to the legislative session continues to come in and while the Dems are getting their share of blame for the breakdown, for the first time in her years at the helm the press is starting to turn on the Guv. For example, the Sangre De Cristo Chronicle weighs in with this viewpoint:

Gov. Martinez blamed Senate Democrats for the whole mess, and they do indeed deserve part of the blame. But so do the Republican lawmakers who blindsided the Dems. . . The governor wasn’t exactly an innocent bystander. She needs to reach out in the spirit of compromise that’s so lacking these days, and we see little evidence of that. Her rhetoric may sound conciliatory from time to time, but we don’t see any bipartisan leadership coming out of her office. She may have won re-election handily last year, but that doesn’t mean she can ignore the Democratic leadership at the Roundhouse. Politics, it’s been said, is the art of compromise. That’s what was needed in Santa Fe.

If you've never been to the Angel Fire/Eagle Nest area in the north that is served by the Chronicle, we can vouch that it's one of the best vacation spots anywhere.

WEED WATCH 

We received a sackful of email in response to a post we did about a series of articles from the Colorado Springs Gazette casting a negative light on the consequences of Colorado's marijuana legalization. Veteran journalist Peter Katel was among many who brought to our attention the Gazette's right-leaning reputation and how the series has come in for critical questioning in journalism circles.

Clearly, marijuana legalization was going to cause some problems. Whether they are as dire as the Gazette claims is another issue. And the Gazette may not be the best source on the matter. Here is more on the Gazette series from the Columbia Journalism Review. And, a more balanced--not to say, sober, look at legalization in Colorado, though somewhat limited in scope.

Reader Jeff Nordley comes with this:

. . . As a nation we are in the process of rethinking the failed war on drugs. At this critical juncture it is important that the collective dialogue not be derailed by stubborn drug warriors that are completely unwilling to face the fact that the war is over and we lost. It is time for a change. It is time for a new approach to drug policy. The Gazette is a propaganda machine masquerading as a journalistic enterprise and that is the framework through which its "reporting" should be viewed.

BILL MARCHIONDO

There's nothing quite like watching a trial lawyer at the top of his game holding sway over a courtroom. The audacity to dominate without hesitation is a gift and ABQ attorney Bill Marchiondo had that gift and more. As a reporter in the 70's we watched him in action several times when he was at the peak of his powers and when he also became one of the most controversial figures to cross the 20th century New Mexico stage. Marchiondo, a native of Raton, the son of Italian immigrants and a 1952 graduate of the UNM School of Law, died Friday at 87.

Always an aggressive and respected attorney, it was in 1974 when Democrat Jerry Apodaca captured the governorship when Marchiondo burst upon the public scene. The ABQ Journal immediately focused its energies on him, suspicious of his close friendship with Apodaca and fearing that he was the gateway to the mob entering the state. They went as far as to run a picture of "Billy" playing cards with a headline saying, "Organized crime showing interest in New Mexico."

That might have been ignored by another but not the pugnacious Marchiondo who took on what was then a real media giant and filed a libel suit. He hired an equally pugnacious and talented attorney to make his case--Boston's F. Lee Bailey.

A highlight of the 1983 Las Cruces trial was Marchiondo calling to testify the then young Journal publisher Tom Lang--who assiduously shunned the public limelight. It was the one--maybe the only time--that Lang went before the cameras. Marchiondo lost the lawsuit on a 10-2 jury verdict, preserving the Journal's power but making it a more cautious institution going forward (Only last month Tom Lang relinquished the title of publisher to his brother).

Marchiondo's alleged ties to organized crime was political fodder for decades but never proven. He prospered and successfully practiced law until the end. In the end, his unflinching and often controversial journey earned him a chapter in the never ending book of La Politica. . .

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