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Monday, June 08, 2015

In And Out Special Session Is Set For Today, Dr. No Says He's A Go For Re-election, More Intel Layoff Rumors Swirl And More APD History 

Legislative leaders swear that they can get in and out of the Roundhouse today in as little as five hours--or about the amount of time it takes to drive from ABQ to Hobbs. The lawmakers go into special session at noon and they hope they will be done by 5 p.m.--just in time for happy hour at the Rio Chama. And will they and Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico be happy about the proceedings at day's end?

Gov. Martinez and legislative bargainers agreed to a tight agenda for the House and Senate to follow. If the respective whips for each party can herd their colleagues like cattle--not cats--we should have a $295 million public works bill and about $5 million in tax breaks.

There have been rumblings from progressive Dems about making a play to include a solar tax credit in the tax break measure but that appears more symbolic than realistic.

There will be an obvious irony at play today. Much of the pressure on the Governor to call a special came from conservatives who are usually first in line to decry government spending. The GOP oriented business community and small-town Republicans needing some stimulus for their down trending economies pounded the table the loudest for the session. That had the rare effect of having Gov. Martinez engaging in the art of compromise.

No one is expecting today's compromise special to open the floodgates for deals on legislation during the '16 session but even one day without gridlock in the polarized corridors of Santa Fe will be a welcome break.

DR. NO IS A GO

Sen. Smith
Dem State Senator John Arthur Smith has put to rest any notion that he will not seek another four year term next year.

I’m in my seventh term and God willing, I’ll go for my eighth. As long as my health holds up, I’ll run for re-election.

Smith, 73, is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He is often referred to as Dr. No because of his fiscal conservatism. He was the lead negotiator for the Senate Dems with Gov. Martinez over the details of today's special session. His district is in the Deming area. Liberals have talked of giving him a primary challenge in '16--as they did in '12-- but that talk has died down.

Smith of late has been a bit more adversarial with the Republican Governor than in previous years. It will be interesting to see if the R's run anyone against him, after a PAC related to the Governor endorsed him four years ago.

SHOE TO DROP?

The next major economic development in the state after the approval of the capital outlay bill may be at Intel in Rio Rancho. From Oregon:

Intel is quietly making plans to lay off employees across the company later this month in response to disappointing sales. A confidential, internal memo obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive indicates that Intel wants to keep expenses flat to match the company's reduced revenue outlook for 2015, citing plans it announced in April to cut its research and administrative budget by $300 million this year.

If layoffs at Intel do occur later this month, it won't come as a surprise. Rumors have been flying for months. Intel is already down to 2,300 employees when they used to have more than triple that here. If another layoff shoe drops, the outlook for the City of Vision's economy becomes more cloudy.

MORE APD HISTORY

A reader writes in response to our Friday blog on the APD Black Rose incident of the late 80's and comes with this history:

In the early 90's, metro court responded to a broadside from Mayor Marty Chavez blaming it for the huge amount of DWI-related overtime the city had to pay its officers for going to court. After Metro pointed out in a letter to the city council that the police contract mandated a minimum 2 hours of overtime be paid any officer in a courthouse for more than 15 minutes, and perhaps the contract might be fueling the problem, every metro judge's mailbox was stuffed with an anonymous letter accusing the court of interfering with police overtime pay and threatening political consequences. The matter was referred to other law enforcement, but nothing came of it. Those were the days when a couple DWI-squad officers were tagged in the papers for taking home well upwards of $130K, on $40-50K salaries, fueled mostly by overtime. For reference, the Chief Justice currently makes $125,691 (44th in the country, FYI).

THE BOTTOM LINES

The current chair of the Bernalillo County Commission is Democrat Maggie Hart Stebbins. Last week another commissioner was briefly listed here as being chair.

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