Monday, February 22, 2016

This Is No Typo: 10,000 Apply For 290 Jobs At ABQ Cheesecake Factory; News Largely Ignored As City Continues To Struggle With New Reality. Plus: Dem Reps Call For Behavioral Probe, Medicaid Musings And On The Santa Fe Scene 

Any notion that the jobs crisis was abating here was dashed to the ground with the astounding news that 10,000 people applied for 290 positions at the new ABQ Cheesecake Factory. It was was the kind of stunner that sent your head reeling, your Starbucks cup dropping to the ground and prompted wonder if the city is ever going to be able to dig out of this.

You say you didn't hear the news? Well, like so many troubling economic developments around here it was mostly swept under the media rug, with brief reports in only a few media outlets.

In 2013 when Target was opening a new store in Uptown and nearly 3,000 applied for 200 jobs that paid $9 an hour, the headlines blared and the talking TV heads talked plenty. Why not now? Have they given up? Pressured to give up? But we digress. . .

The state has the highest jobless rate in the nation. Governor Martinez, Mayor Berry and the Republican-controlled state House have chosen to largely ignore it rather than confront it. The problem is so sizable and confounding that you can sympathize with their predicament but not with the abdication of their responsibility.

No doubt many of those 10,000 applicants were seeking second and even third jobs to make ends meet. The city's job market remains a starved, low-wage environment, especially for those without higher education or technical skills required for better paying work.

Ten thousand. That's a massive number in a town this size, not only revealing the depth of the crisis but also debunking the contention that the jobless don't want to work. (The Cheesecake Factory says it may be a national record). It should serve as a call to arms to every soul involved in economic development. And where is the new generation of politicians ready to go to bat on jobs and bring some good old fashioned populism to the table? Do we have to import Bernie Sanders?

The state and city do have an economic policy. In fact, there are two slogans in the running to describe it. The first is, "Love It Or Leave It." The second is, "Let Them Eat Cheesecake!"

We'll finish off this little missive by saying it one more time: Before this transformational economic era in state history concludes you are going to see and hear things you wouldn't believe possible. 10,000 people applying for 290 Cheesecake Factory jobs is surely among them.


Second terms are a bitch. You can quote us on that. Not only is Gov. Martinez's chief political adviser being investigated by a federal grand jury for possible campaign finance violations, now the four Dems in the state's congressional delegation want a federal probe of the administration's suspension of all those behavioral health care providers a few years back. So far, AG Balderas has cleared all but two of them of any wrongdoing, despite the administration's insistence that they were defrauding Medicaid and had to be replaced with out-of-state providers. Pay to play? One assumes the Feds would go there if they agree to investigate.

It's the first real attack on the Fourth Floor from the delegation in the over five years she has been in office. The Guv's office calls it a "partisan stunt" coming from "Washington politicians." Maybe, but then this is the second term. . .


And speaking of Medicaid, a number of readers ask why in the name of Dr. Barry Ramo would the Legislature slash the increase in state Medicaid funds for the next budget year to a mere $20 million? They point out that the state gets three dollars from the Feds for every state Medicaid dollar spent and that health care--spurred on by the expansion of Medicaid--is one of the few job engines in the state. From UNM:

Medicaid will be short as much as $90 million, which will require cuts in health care services of at least $400 million because of the federal funding we will forego.
In FY2015, 64% (4,400 of 6,900) new jobs were in health care; 40% of these in ‘social assistance’ and 60% outside metro areas. according to  UNM-BBER.

Lawmakers were dealing with a crashing budget when they made the Medicaid decision but they may want to call that play back when they next meet. That might be in a special session to address the ongoing budget dilemma.


Thanks to Journey Santa Fe (Bill Dupuy and Alan Webber) and Collected Bookworks on Galisteo for hosting us Sunday for a fine discussion of the recent legislative session. A good turnout and great questions. Afterwards we walked over to Elevation Bistro for more La Politica and great sandwiches with Webber, a 2014 Dem Guv candidate who says he will consider another run in 2018, and popular Santa Fe morning radio talk show host Richard Eeds (KVSF 101.5 FM). The estimable Dem State Senator Peter Wirth will be the next speaker in the series next Sunday at 11 a.m. (Try not to stick Webber with a lunch tab, Peter. Eeds and the blog already did that.). . .

On the Friday blog a representative from Common Cause identified Rep. Zach Cook as being from Roswell. He is from Ruidoso. And finally, we misidentified the father of Steve Anaya in discussing Mike Anaya's run for the state senate. Hopefully, someone will come forth to claim Steve. Meantime, you can find him holding forth as head of the NM Realtors Association.

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