Thursday, August 04, 2016
ABQ Free Press.
We're not endowed with psychic powers but based on what's been going on around here this sizzling summer of '16 we think we have a pretty good idea of the stories you will be seeing in the ABQ Free Press in the next couple of years. In no particular order, here's a sneak peek.
May 2017. A ninth Central Avenue business has closed its doors and declared bankruptcy, blaming the city's rapid transit plan known as ART. Six of the beleaguered businesses were restaurants hit especially hard by the year and half construction project that Mayor Berry insists will spark economic development. Restaurant owners banded together to fight Mayor Berry's bus plan, warning of the economic fallout but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Berry reacted to the business closings by arguing that, "ART will mean bigger and better restaurants once its completed and the bankrupt restaurant owners should "hang in there."
March 2017. The New Mexico Legislature completed its 60 day session but the budget it crafted for the year starting July 1st is seen as kicking the can down the road. Gov. Martinez refused to support broad based tax reform that would raise lagging state revenues, saying "anything that even looks like a tax increase is going to see the ink of my veto pen." More layoffs at the state's universities and a downsizing of state government is expected as the budget crisis continues,
September 2017. The national recession that began to take hold in June has hit New Mexico harder than most states. Federal spending is flat and no longer shields the state from such downturns and the state's unemployment rate has again soared to among the highest in the nation. Property crime in Albuquerque is hitting multi-year highs as the recession rages. In response Mayor Richard Berry said, "it was a lot worse in the 1990's."
October 2017. ABQ Mayor Berry has won one of two run-off slots in the city's mayoral election as turnout flirted with historic lows. Berry, who had toyed with the idea of seeking the 2018 gubernatorial nomination, backtracked when members of his own party rebelled against him. The run-off election will be held in November, with Berry a heavy favorite to win a third term. Democratic analysts said Berry's continued electoral success is due to no one in their party seriously questioning his leadership.
September 2018. With just three months left in her final term in office, Gov. Martinez has revealed some of her plans for the future. She says she will partner with former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White to expand the medical marijuana business he is involved in and will also be a spokeswoman to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state.
June 2018. Conservative NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce has won the Republican nomination for Governor. He decided to give up his congressional seat when polling showed that Lt. Gov. Sanchez and Mayor Berry, his two potential foes, were unpopular with likely Republican voters. Pearce credited his win to his support for failed 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump and his fierce opposition to the polices of President Hillary Clinton.
April 2018. Payments to settle lawsuits against APD since 2010 totaled $40 million in mid-2016 but with a rash of recent settlements that number has climbed to $58 million. Also, a federal judge this month found the city in contempt of court for not abiding by the Justice Department's consent decree to reform APD. "Years of stonewalling simply must end in order to professionalize APD and give the city the department it deserves," the judge wrote. APD Chief Gorden Eden, who Berry retained upon his successful 2017 re-election bid, termed the contempt finding a "technicality" and that reforms are going "full speed ahead."
July 2018. Controversy broke out at this month's meeting of the Albuquerque city council as councilors moved to divert tax revenue approved explicitly by voters for the BioPark at the 2015 election. The lawmakers want to put $5 million into APD and other city departments struggling to make ends meet. The BioPark tax is a 15 year levy that is generating more than $20 million a year. Mayor Berry said since APD provides "much security" for the BioPark diverting the tax is not a illegal money grab, but "really what the taxpayers had in mind.
The future or fantasy? Stay tuned.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016