Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Vox Populi 

The readers write and quite a bit, too. . .

One of the big "what ifs?" in state politics is what if at the end of the election season the state House of Representatives--currently controlled by the R's with a 37 to 33 majority--ended up in a 35 to 35 tie? Some of the Legal Beagles and state legislators say the state Constitution provides for the Secretary of State to preside over the House until a speaker is agreed upon. and even appoint committee chairs. But ABQ Dem State Senator Daniel- Ivey-Soto an attorney and former NM elections director doesn't see it that way. Here's his take.

Joe, Regarding the powers of the Secretary of State at the beginning of a new legislative session. Article IV, Section 8 as it relates to the House says: “The house of representatives shall be called to order in the hall of said house by the secretary of state. He shall preside until the election of a speaker, who shall be the member receiving the highest number of votes for that office.”

In 1953, the Secretary of State asked if she may cast the deciding vote to break a tie if the House deadlocked on the election of Speaker. In Attorney General Opinion 53-5633, it was opined that since she is not a member of the House, the Secretary of State cannot break the tie unless the House – by its own rules – decides to give the Secretary of State that power (Article IV, Section 11 of the Constitution permits each chamber to set its own rules). The House has declines to amend its rules to give the Secretary of State any additional power or authority. If there is a tie, there is no election and the House must re-ballot until the tie is broken.

Then-Attorney General Robinson went on specifically to opine that the Secretary of State’s “duties, however, are confined to the election of a Speaker of the House and only such motions as are incident to the election of such speaker would be in order.”

I note that the rules of the House Rule 9-1 is clear that the “Speaker” appoints committee members and Rule 9-1-2 is clear that “The speaker shall designate the chairmen when the committee is appointed.” Because the rule is specific to the “Speaker” and not to the “Presiding Officer,” the Secretary of State lacks this authority. (Link to the House Rules here.)

At the end of the day, an Attorney General Opinion is presumed to be the law, but only a Court decision is the law, so if we end up at 35-35, we may end up in Court over this, as each political party will be looking for whatever advantage they can get. However, I fear the more likely outcome is that the House could spend 60 days balloting and re-balloting to elect a Speaker. If they fail to break the tie, that may end being the only business they conduct in 2017…

Interesting stuff, but we remember the early 80's when conservative Dems joined with House R's to form a coalition and choose a speaker. Something of that order could be in the cards in the event of a tied House next year. (Not necessarily a conservative coalition but a coalition of some sorts).


Silvio Dell'Angela
Maybe you missed this rant from a Texas congressman about Donald Trump. It drew some sharp responses and we'll run one of them after revisiting the congressman's comments;

 U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville, TX) took a poison pen to the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump. "Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass," the Brownsville Democrat wrote in a lengthy missive to the real estate magnate. . . He added: "Before you dismiss me as just another 'Mexican,' let me point out that my great-great grandfather came to this country in 1857, well before your own grandfather," His grandchildren (my grandfather and his brothers) all served our country in World War I and World War II. His great-grandson, my father, served in the U.S. Army and, coincidentally, was one of the first 'Mexican' federal judges ever appointed to the federal bench."

That struck in the craw of ABQ activist Silvio Dell'Angela who wrote:

Joe, I don’t know why you even printed this inane and insulting rant by Texas Congressman Filemon Vela to all those of Mexican heritage here who consider themselves to be only Americans. Many of these still poor are having jobs taken away from them from the illegals entering this country. I guess the Congressman wants open borders to even allow those loyal to ISIS to enter.

This poor excuse for a US legislator insults all of Mexican heritage by claiming somehow they are traitors to “their people” if they don’t demonize Trump. I wonder whether this man also would also bring and wave his Mexican flag at any Trump protest rally and possibly also burn our American flag. . .

This Texas embarrassment to Congress who thinks he speaks for all those of Mexican heritage never served. The question is why not? Instead he takes credit for the military service of other family members.

Our Governor Martinez like Congressman Vela wears her Latina background on her sleeve as if this too somehow justifies not supporting Trump. . .


Brent Eastwood, Ph.D
We took issue with a newspaper report citing an assistant professor of economics at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh that said New Mexico fell behind Arizona decades ago when it let federal spending become the dominant part of its economy, instead of nurturing a private sector. Republican political scientist Brent Eastwood in DC responded:

Joe: I can’t agree with you on your latest analysis of a recent study comparing the economies of New Mexico and Arizona.

First, on your point about the author’s connection to Charles G. Koch. You are correct that this Koch brother chairs the board of the Institute for Human Studies (HIS) and Koch is a major funder of the organization. Yes, Learn Liberty is also an IHS project.

But Joe, come on. This is a bunch of libertarian PhDs who throw seminars for college students. . .They are just running a marketplace of ideas based on Aristotle, Plato, Thomas Jefferson, Friedrich Hayek and others.

It is true that sponsored research is a problem in academia, especially when the funding source is not disclosed by the researcher. It should have been revealed that the study’s author, Matt E. Ryan, has outside affiliations beyond his academic position. So you are correct to bring that up. Also, social scientists do not usually discuss draft papers with the media. Papers should be published first to allow readers to find the original document. I was not able to find Ryan’s paper on the web and that is problematic.

But you must agree that the comparison between Arizona and New Mexico is an excellent research question. It’s a question I have often pondered, I’ve only heard one good answer over the years and that is Albuquerque could not grow in the same way as Phoenix because it is hemmed in geographically by mountains and federal lands.

Ryan’s assertion that New Mexico relies too much on the government sector is not new as you know. Government spending, government transfers and entitlements, and government jobs will always be important in New Mexico. Many New Mexicans could not make it without government assistance. Ryan is not saying that the state should cut public welfare programs.

Government employment will perpetually be huge in the state and it should remain so in my opinion. New Mexicans generally enjoy working in government and are quite good at it. New Mexicans also tend to have a high level of civic duty and civic involvement. 

None of that is the problem.

Ryan makes an important distinction between beneficial government activity and adverse political activity. It’s the adverse political activity in New Mexico that is harmful and unproductive. Adverse political activity is difficult to define and measure, but we know it when we see it. It is associated with political shenanigans, pay-to-play, scheming, scamming, flimflamming, illegal lobbying, campaign finance abuse, endless negative ads, message coordinating between PACs, unethical backscratching and deal making, log rolling, unlawful campaigning, brow beating, intimidating, retaliating and other wasteful and unproductive actions.

Adverse political activity leads to economic dysfunction and stagnant growth. 

All states have adverse political activity and Arizona is no stranger to it. But in New Mexico, the level of adverse political activity is acute, even though most of its beneficial government participation is admirable.

Therefore, it is time to examine some of the root causes of Arizona’s economic leap forward to better understand why New Mexico fell so far behind. This study is a start in that direction, even if it may be connected in some way to Charles Koch.

Thanks for those insights, Brent, but we would offer another reason, perhaps a controversial one, on why decades ago NM did not follow the private sector path of Arizona. This state has had and still has a civil rights issues.

Hispanic New Mexicans were not as prepared for the 1960's workforce that Associate Professor Ryan pointed to. Many Hispanics as well as our Native Americans were struggling for full civil, education and economic rights. The government sector economy that developed here was largely populated by outsiders while the indigenous population was left to find its way.

We could not have "imported" thousands of scientists and other workers to build a private sector.  They came here for the government jobs. We had to build a free market with the population we had and that population was not as ready as Arizona's. And still isn't. And it won't be until we really take on the systemic and generational disadvantages that continue to haunt the state's development.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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