Thursday, June 18, 2015

Time For Some Cranes In The Sky; Long Struggle Over Pork Bill Finally Ends, Intel Numbers Mystery Solved And More On Santolina City 

Maybe we'll see a few more cranes in the sky later this year now that the long battle over the nearly $295 million Santa Fe pork bill is finally over and Gov. Martinez has signed it into law.

She even called it a "job creation" bill and avoided a donnybrook by vetoing a mere $1.1 million in projects. You don't often hear a Republican like Martinez call government spending "job creation" but the bill will indeed mean jobs. In addition, a large share will go for equipment purchases and the like which will give the state a lesser boost but is still welcome.

The $295 million (now $294 after the vetoes) may sound like a lot but as we've reported it is less than half of past capital outlay measures that were approved when cash was flooding into state coffers. In the new economy it trickles in.

The crane in today's pic looms over ABQ's Winrock Center which is undergoing a major renovation. We took it while stuck in traffic caused by an individual who was threatening to commit suicide from one of the freeway bridges (they were talked down.). Police closed I-40 eastbound for some two hours to deal with the situation. There has to be a better way but we empathize with law enforcement in trying to figure out what it might be.


And we thought pork and beans went together like peanut butter and jelly. Not in Santa Fe. While everyone was celebrating the newly arrived pork the head bean counter had to spoil the party. The news:

. . . More budget problems are on the horizon because of the state’s expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income residents as part of the federal health care overhaul, a top legislative official warned. More than 216,000 people have been added to the Medicaid rolls in New Mexico, bringing the total to nearly 800,000. David Abbey, director of the Legislative Finance Committee, (said) that once the rate of federal cost-sharing for the expansion drops to 90 percent, New Mexico’s share will balloon to about $120 million. The federal government is currently covering 100 percent of the expansion. That percentage will gradually decrease starting in 2017. Abbey said that Medicaid spending will be the driver of future budget negotiations in New Mexico.

Okay, we get it but still say Abbey gets no bacon for a month for raining on the parade.


The mystery over just how many employees are at the Rio Rancho Intel chip plant is over. Spokeswoman Liz Shipley tells us an outdated web page has the number at 2,800 but it is actually 2,300. The ABQ Journal has been reporting the 2,300 with other media going with 2,800. Intel is updating the info.

Of course, we are all wondering if Intel will have to do another update in light of the company-wide layoffs that started Wednesday. Our neighbors in Chandler, AZ took a big hit  with several hundred getting laid off there. Shipley says she has no info on any layoffs here. An executive for Intel says "generally no more than a few hundred employees" will be laid of at any one site.


The going could get rougher for the giant Santolina development after next year's election. Adrián Pedroza is a Dem candidate for the commission seat held by Dem Art De La Cruz. De La Cruz joined with the two Republican commissioners this week to give a narrow approval to Santolina which is proposed for the area near I-40 and 118th Street. Pedroza, endorsed by a wide array of progressives as well as the two Dems currently on the commission, does not share De La Cruz's views:

I disagree with all three votes cast to approve the development. There are substantial questions as to the jobs to housing ratio, water use, and whether the development will be a net zero expense to the county, as required for these types of development proposals.

Pedroza is the only announced candidate for the De La Cruz seat but there are sure to be more. The seat is solid Dem so no R's need apply. Whoever wins the June '16 primary is almost certain to be the next South Valley commissioner. Two other seats are also up for election next year but analysts say the make-up of the commission--3 Dems and 2 R's-- is not expected.

Besides the Pedroza candidacy, lawsuits could be another potential problem for Santolina in the years ahead.

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