Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Santolina Saved By De La Cruz, Pearce Gets Punished; Still The Odd Man Out In DC, Is It 2,800 Or 2,300 Jobs And A Gift For Policy Nerds 

De La Cruz
Build it and they will come---say in about 40 years. So say the developers of the giant Santolina project proposed for the Westside near I-40 and which on Tuesday was given initial approval on a 3 to 2 vote by the Bernalillo County Commission. The approval was made possible by South Valley Commissioner Art De La Cruz who sided with the two GOP commissioners. De La Cruz is term-limited and can't seek re-election next year but judging by the scorn heaped on him by his neighbors his political career appears at an end.

As for Santolina supporters, they're saying as many as 90,000 people could live out there four decades from now. But it sure doesn't have the same feel as when I heard that about Rio Rancho 40 years ago (yeah, kids we've been around a while). New Mexico was on the cusp of big things back then and Rio Rancho now has over 91,000 residents. But the next thing big thing for NM does not appear to be another housing boom and if it is it just might be in Rio Rancho again. Housing prices there are way down because of the economic crash and and they could go lower if pessimistic developments about Intel come true (more below).

Then there's the gargantuan and ghostly Mesa del Sol development on the south side of the city. That, too, was forecast to have tens of thousands of residents but the jackrabbits have yet to be threatened as New Mexico and the metro have entered a new and long-term pattern of little growth. But, hey, don't let us rain on the parade. I hope to be around to see Art De La Cruz elected Mayor of Santolina.


Steve Pearce remains the odd man out. He is the only GOP member of the state's congressional delegation but the southern conservative has a lousy relationship with the R who controls the US House. In fact, his relationship has worsened. House Speaker Boehner kicked him off the whip team this week as punishment for Pearce joining with two other whips (and many Democrats) in breaking with Boehner on the controversial trade bill, Boehner was trying to push it through the House but the bill failed--to the chagrin of both Boehner and Obama. (More from the National Journal).

Not that Pearce did not make the right vote. The trade bill was a rare occasion when the Tea Party and the Left agreed and joined forces to score victory. Pearce won praise from one liberal Facebook poster for "voting the interests of his constituents."

Pearce has predictably supported federal  funding for the military bases in his district and the WIPP project but is by no means a fan of federal spending, so even though he is our only R on the Hill being on the outs with Boehner seems more of a personal matter than how it impacts his district and the state.

Pearce is expected to seek and win another two year term next year but as long as Boehner is in power Steve is a pariah. Pearce can draw some satisfaction from helping his constituents with problems but as far as being a congressional policy force, the Speaker's spanking took care of that.

2,800 or 2,300?

It seems to be a moving target as to just how many people work at the scaled down Intel chip plant in Rio Rancho. The Journal has it at 2,300 while other media say 2,800. This isn't the first time we've seen discrepancy in the numbers. The bottom line is that the plant is threatened with even more layoffs with Intel announcing via an internal memo that company wide layoffs were coming. Meantime, they might want to do another head count in Rio Rancho to get their story straight.


Some serious policy nerds might think this next item is better than sex (hey, we're talking really serious nerds here). It's the New Mexico Annual Social and Economic Indicators (2015) and it comes from deep within the bureaucracy, specifically the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the NM Department of Workforce Solutions. You can pore over every conceivable population breakdown in the state--by county, by ethnicity, by age and by projected future growth. Don't worry. A 10 minute scan is enough to get a good idea of the New Mexico citizenry. Even you non nerds have time for that.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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