Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What Does Martin Heinrich Really Want? We Have The Answer, Plus: Back On The Econ Beat; Here We Come, Colorado, Also: More On ART And Higher Ed From The Home Of NM Politics 

NM Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich isn't going to be the VP pick for Hillary Clinton, so why are we seeing and hearing his name mentioned as a possible? Before we answer that, this item:

Heinrich, who endorsed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton back in 2014, is among a couple of dozen names that often surface when political writers and commentators discuss the best bets to become Clinton’s running mate this summer. . . Heinrich, 44, a first-term senator, last week was good-natured in deflecting most questions about whether he could be part of the Democrats’ presidential ticket this year.

So, back to why. From one of our seasoned Alligators:

This is a set-up. These aren't random bloggers starting VP talk on their own. This is a time-honored Heinrich tactic of developing buzz on the Internet and then getting a newspaper to run a story. He's purposely getting his name into the mix of people to join a  Clinton administration. He wants to first get his name in the vetting/discussion for VP. He won't get VP but becomes a more logical choice for Secretary of Interior. 

Well, that's one way to score a job interview. If it all worked out and Heinrich was tapped for a cabinet position in 2017, the final two years of his US Senate term would be filled by an appointee named by Republican Gov. Martinez. With that possibility out there, maybe the R's help Martin in any job quest.


One of the reasons the state isn't having an urgent debate about the state's economic future--even as it worsens--is because it's too easy to get out of here:

Colorado added 2,500 payroll jobs in February from the previous month, and the state's unemployment rate dropped to 3.0 percent, its lowest level since March 2001 and well below the national rate, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported. It was the 52nd straight month of jobs gains in the state--the longest unbroken stretch since the 1990s.

It's all about leadership, folks.


Reader Ron Nelson joins us on the econ beat:

Yes, there are jobs being added in NM ecause of the increase of Medicaid patients, but there are still many vacancies that can’t be filled. Talked to a colleague over the weekend, and he estimated that 30 percent of most of our local hospitals are  by travelers or out of state contractors. That means we don’t have enough qualified personnel to run what we already have.

So what about ABQ Mayor Berry's rapid bus plan (ART) for Central Avenue that he argues would spur economic development. Reader Jerry Trujillo writes:

ART  is a social engineering experiment on how to change the way Albuquerque travels. It will not get additional NE Heights folks to use this bus system and they are the ones that have the money to make or break Nob Hill businesses. If they think this idea of jumping on the bus and start spending money is going to happen, think again. 

Morningside Antiques is the first business to see the writing on the wall. They are closing shop next week. The single ART lane and few left turns will be the kiss of death to businesses that are barely hanging on. 

The City Council has voted to accept federal grant money for the project that is contained in President Obama's budget proposal. But that budget has yet to be approved. There also continue to be rumblings about a possible lawsuit to get a court injunction to stop the project, but nothing hard on that so far.


A news report comes with a possible key reason that the Gov. Martinez appointed UNM Board of Regents may have moved to take more control of the UNM Health Sciences Center--state government wanted Health Sciences to give it $50 million to plug the hole in the Medicaid budget, but without any commitment to pay the money back. When Health Sciences rejected that the power grab came down, or so goes what seems like a plausible theory.

A reader with long ties to UNM comes with more:

Joe, Regarding your blog comment about the problems at UNM: "Aah, what could have been. . ."

Yes, what could have been if Gov. Bill Richardson had not brought hardball partisan politics to the state's universities, seeking control of the Boards of Regents and having appointed his unqualified Clinton administration buddy, Captain Louis Caldera, to the UNM presidency. In the years that followed there was the dismissal or forced resignation of several longtime, loyal and competent staff, the expansion of the now bloated bureaucracy, the "promotion" of many directors to several varieties of "vice-presidencies," patronage for friends in the highest levels of administration (including athletics), sweetheart contracts for projects such as the Pit (aka WisePies Arena) and many more examples of mismanagement and manipulation at our flagship university.

And what could be....There have been no reports that that one of the emergency budgetary measures UNM is considering is the cutting back on the huge number of "vice-presidents" or "contributions" of all those with salaries over $200,000 or so contributing the excesses in their salaries to student scholarships or other forms of tuition-fee relief.

The poly sci lesson here is that the power grabbing ways of Big Bill at UNM paved the way for the UNM power grabbing by Gov. Martinez.


Reaction now to reader Jim McClure's suggestion, that with declining enrollment and slashed budgets this is the perfect time to consolidate the state's sprawling higher education complex. An education Alligator writes:

Joe, there have been at least two major studies of our higher education "system" by "independent commissions" over the past few decades. They have come to the same conclusion as McClure--that reform is needed. What is needed, and has been recommended is clear. However, no reforms were made; the studies are gathering dust.

College branches continue to proliferate and previous "normal" colleges granting baccalaureate degrees have become universities with graduate degree programs. Two year community colleges have become four-year colleges and even "universities." Schools from kindergarten to universities are largely seen as venues for jobs and contracts. Every community must be given a piece of the pie or no else no one gets anything. That has been New Mexico political culture for centuries. All our institutions, especially our governments, reflect this. Asi es Nuevo Mexico (Such is New Mexico).

Very well said, Education Gator. As we blogged Monday, we believe in the years ahead economics will force transformative change in the state's higher education complex. The perpetrators of the status quo will be dragged kicking and screaming.


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