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Friday, January 29, 2016

A Friday Edition Of Vox Populi 

The readers write. First up is George Richmond:

The Spaceport needs more operating funds. What for? Where are the tenants or clients? And if the state budget is tight, let's sell the Spaceport. Yes, sell the Spaceport.  Put out a request for proposals and then start the auction. Since there are around 10 or so existing state launch sites, most of which are active, the NM Spaceport really has no clients and no mission--unless being a site for commercials for auto companies is a "mission."

At least one state senator has advocated selling the Spaceport.

Richard de Uriarte, the former press secretary to former Governor Jerry Apodaca who was elected to a four year term in 1974, writes from Phoenix:
Joe, This video was made for the Hispanic Roundtable, which honored Jerry Apodaca this week in Santa Fe. The narrator is his son Jeff, who works for Entravision in the Mountain States region and is a potential candidate for governor of New Mexico in 2018. Or so I am told. Seeing us all that young is. . .well ... unnerving.

Former Governor Apodaca is 81 and lives in Santa Fe.

Stephanie DuBois writes of the suggestion that members of the often troubled Public Regulation Commission be appointed instead of elected:

Joe, I don’t ever think it is a good idea to take power away from the people by having a board that is elected by the people and give all the power to one individual, say like a Governor. That resembles a dictatorship. The PRC is there to regulate public utilities and I believe it should stay elected by the people who pay the bills. 

DRIVER'S LICENSES FOREVER

ABQ Attorney Jeff Baker writes:

A driver’s privilege card (Republican House Bill 99 that passed the House this week) requires applicants for these cards--which would be good for only one year--to be fingerprinted. When I renew my driver’s license, which is good for 8 years, all I have to do is provide a current photo.

Getting the balance right between freedom and security is challenging, but it seems as if Governor Martinez and the House Republicans want more than security. The road they are traveling does not lead to Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill.” The road they are following leads to a much darker place.

WEIRD POLITICS

Bob Gurule, who was a top administrator for the city of Albuquerque, writes:

Weird politics nowadays!  ABQ Police Chief Eden speaks to the Economic Forum and gets a standing ovation. Morale at APD is worse than over and the city's solution is to bring back police officers and raid our pension fund, which only worsen the morale for obvious reasons.

BERRY'S BUSES

Blogging with Berry
Reader Antonio Lopez responds to comments made here by former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez last week regarding the proposed ABQ Rapid Transit plan for Central Ave:

I'm sorry to hear the former mayor is selling our future short by trying to undercut a project he once supported. The federal studies clearly show the link between reliable rapid transit and sustainable economic growth in a project that would bring $80 million in federal funds and countless jobs to our double-dipped recession victim of an economy.

Light rail would be wonderful but New Mexico cannot afford it. Neither can ABQ. It's in appropriate for him to sit on the sideline like a DC fat cat he has become and take cheap shots at the likes of City Councilor Pat Davis and the current mayor who are trying to work together for the good of ABQ.

Reader Nat Chakeres writes:

I want to respond to Mayor Chavez's comments about street cars and light rail. There's a big difference between the two. In Atlanta, a streetcar was pushed through and touted as an engine of economic development. It turned out to be an extravagant boondoggle that opened years behind schedule. Construction dragged on for so long that it killed off the businesses along the route that it was supposed to help. The businesses along Central Avenue in ABQ don't need years of orange cones and construction headaches.

A light rail along the lines of Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, and Seattle is a different beast and could actually improve the livability of the city, but only if it's designed to relieve congestion by connecting to the West Side, Rio Rancho, and the airport. Those systems aren't cheap, though, and building one would require a lot of money from the feds.

OPIATE EPIDEMIC

Reader Ken Tabish writes:

I wanted to pass on a great read on the Opiate/Black Tar Heroin epidemic that is impacting New Mexico and the US. I highly recommend "Dreamland” by Sam Quinones, which follows the connection between the prescription drug OxyContin and black tar heroin. The author highlights its impact on Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Chimayo and the Espanola Valley. If anyone has an interest on how heroin and opiate usage is impacting our youth, then this is a must read. Also, it's interesting that there is no talk about drug intervention/treatment programs in this legislative session when it will be devoted to “crime intervention/prevention.”

NOT A RAINY DAY FUND

Reader Kristin Haase, the former State Land Office Assistant Commissioner for Communication during the administration of Republican Pat Lyons, writes:

Hi Joe, As you know, the Land Grant Permanent Fund is an endowment created by our state’s founding fathers to help support public schools, seven universities, the New Mexico Military Institute, the School for the Deaf, the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and a handful of other vital public institutions, in perpetuity – that means forever. It is not a “rainy day fund" and tapping into it to solve the state’s financial crisis will cripple its ability to fund public education for generations to come. Who gets what is based on a funding formula, but public schools receive 95 percent of the distribution.

The stability of the fund is subject to the world economy. When the market tanked the LGPF lost $3 billion in one year. Plus, all new money that flows into the LGPF comes almost entirely from the oil and gas industry – need I say more? When the integrity of the fund is so badly eroded - which will happen - the burden to fill the gap will fall on all of us. The powers that be need to put on their thinking caps and find another solution.

We disagree, but thanks for writing, Kristin.

BOOSTING PATTY

A fan of Dem State Rep. Patty Lundstrom of Gallup writes:

If the Dems should win back the House this year there will be big changes next legislative session. There would be new committee chair for the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The likely heir, Rep. Lucky Varela, is retiring, leaving a new breed of leader in Patty Lundstrom. Patty has served 15 years on House Appropriations and as Vice Chair for 6 of those years. She would likely be the next Democratic chair in 2017. She is the most knowledgeable and is perhaps the one person in the House that understands the budget process. There would be many other changes  if the Dems regain the House but this would be a big one.

Meantime, a reader writes of the legislative session:

What initiative does the Governor have in this legislative session to address the most critical needs of our state: child poverty, drug addiction, education.....? Instead it is all about fighting crime, with no additional resources, or decreased resources, to get it done. Does she not understand all these problems are the root cause of crime? She is pretending to "fix" a problem that she is complicit in creating. Is the public so stupid as not to appreciate this? She thinks they are. I hope not!

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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