Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Imagination Gap: Susana Says Dems Lack It, But Where's Hers? Plus: Berry's Bus Meeting Gets Chaotic And Problems Unpadding City Of Santa Fe's Padded Payroll  

During one of her post legislative appearances Governor Martinez trotted out the shopworn idea of "right-to-work" as a panacea to bring jobs to her state which now sports the highest unemployment rate in the nation.  She claimed the Democrats lacked "imagination" for blocking what she called her "reform agenda" as she fell back on RTW as the chief plank of her skimpy economic program. RTW first popped up here when John Travolta was dancing in "Saturday Night Fever." Study after study fails to make a link between it and robust economic growth. Imagine that. . .

Martinez never frankly discusses our egregious jobs situation and these days pivots to her "all crime all the time" agenda. She is now warning legislators who did not go along with the crime theme that they would "have to answer" for it at the ballot box in November when all of them are up for election.

The Governor's decision to cuddle up to crime and cede the important issues of jobs, economic growth and the future by making the esoteric RTW her fall back position is looking more risky as the state continues to get crushed by falling energy prices and no economic growth. For many voters outside of ABQ, where the economic wreckage is especially acute, talking about crime fighting measures that are mainly for the big city may fall flat. And when you have 10,000 applicants for 290 ABQ Cheesecake Factory jobs, it's not an easy sell here in the metro.

Martinez has disengaged from the economic wreckage throughout her tenure, aided and abetted by a Republican business and media establishment that now clearly see that her agenda has not worked and that we are falling further behind. Still, they can't bring themselves to reject her because they can't bring themselves to support any Democrat.

If Gov. Martinez wants more "imagination" in our public policy, maybe she should call Washington and get an economic stimulus package moving in Congress for states that are in recession. Her state is halfway there. The number to the capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121.

By the way, Sinatra did a pretty cool job in this jazzy rendition of the song "Imagination." We dedicate it today to Keith Gardner. . .


ABQ Nob Hill businessman Steve Schroeder has withdrawn his effort to recall ABQ Dem SE Heights City Councilor Pat Davis. He's been upset with Mayor Berry and Davis over the city's $119 million plan for a bus rapid transit plan (ART) that would run through Nob Hill. He's still mad but the recall effort was going nowhere and while Davis supports ART in concept, he continues to hedge over details. Many of liberal constituents want the bus plan while businesses continue to organize against it.

Berry is in a hurry to break ground as opposition builds. The city continues to hold public meetings on the controversial plan and blog reader Frank Gilmer reports from the one held Wednesday night:

The ART meeting was at the old library at Edith and Central. It turned into a shouting match. Meeting presenters, after having technical problems trying to show a video, told us to break up into small groups and "mitigate" or ask questions. Former ABQ City Councilor Pete Dinelli asked that the overflow crowd instead be given a 15-minute opportunity to ask questions. Denied. Some unnamed activist then asked that those who were against the "done deal" to raise their hands. The "against" were certainly in the majority.

The newspaper reports the meeting was indeed chaotic:

A public meeting erupted into shouts of opposition and chaos late Wednesday as city officials tried to explain the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project to an angry crowd. It was the first of a series of five meetings. . .to address construction plans for the $119 million project — which would involve a system of dedicated bus lanes and stations along Central Avenue, the old Route 66.  One woman held a “Stop Ruining My Neighborhood” sign. Others shouted out questions and interrupted city transit officials who were trying to get everyone to break into small groups for more focused discussion.

Back to Dinell who lost to Berry for mayor in 2013, but says he's gratified that he recently helped kill Berry's legislative proposal to allow retired law enforcement officers to return to work at APD while still keeping their pensions. Now he tells us he is going for a kill on ART. Of the meeting, he writes:

What I did learn is this project seems to be a done deal and City Hall intends to break ground in May, whether or not all the funding is in place and regardless of public opposition. The ART bus project reminds me of when City Hall crammed urban renewal down our throats where the existing convention center and civic plaza now sits. Urban renewal destroyed downtown and ART as presented will destroy Route 66 and especially Nob Hill. City Hall has the nerve to suggest “loans” to now thriving businesses to get them through the one year construction phase. I strongly recommend people contact their City Councilor and encourage them to stop the ART project from starting and until the public is satisfied. Other meetings scheduled are: Feb. 25, 6:00 pm at Immanuel Presbyterian Church at Central and Carlisle for Nob Hill and University segments, March 1, 6:00 pm at the Old Town police substation, Central and Rio Grande for Old Town Segments, March 2 at Pat Baca Library at Central and Unser for West Central segments, March 3, 6:00 am at the Alice K. Hoppes African American Pavilion, 300 San Pedro

Democrat Dinelli is also asking Councilor Pat Davis to take an active role in halting ART.


Family ties go deep in Santa Fe and we're starting to believe that's the fundamental problem in resolving that city's $18 million budget crisis. They need to do layoffs, early buy-outs and furloughs but everyone is related to everyone else and the politicians can't bring themselves to take the heat resulting from unpadding the padded payroll.

No one wants to see more lost jobs, but the city council and mayor are now proposing to increase the dreaded and unfair gross receipts tax to avoid hard but necessary choices. They also want to raise property taxes and rob the water utility fund to keep the payroll party going. They propose to do only $4 million in budget cuts. That's a recipe for more hurt for already hard hit Santa Fe working families.

Is it fair to the thousands of working class waiters, waitresses and laborers in one of the nation's tourism centers to be carrying on their backs much higher paid city employees whose jobs, according to various comparison studies, are not needed?  It is the rank and file private sector workers who will pay most of the increased taxes and higher rents that will result from this political family protection act the council has undertaken.

The Santa Fe fiscal follies were camouflaged for years by the booming bull market in tourism and the accompanying tax revenue. That's gone--maybe forever. A much poorer city population shouldering the burden resulting from the carelessness of a political class with a major case of myopia is no way to run the Santa Fe railroad. . .

At a recent hearing of the ABQ City Council's finance committee the news wasn't very inspiring. City Councilor Ken Sanchez pointed to prospective budget deficits in the years ahead as the city continues to wrestle with weak growth and loss of revenue from the state. (Reader Charles Arasim sent this video.) City officials say they use conservative income projections and that the budget holes will be filled but it's a reminder of how ABQ remains on a tight fiscal leash.

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