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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bye, Bye Barela; Econ Secretary Exits As State Continues To Struggle, Plus: A Paranoid PNM? Attacks On Rate Hearing Officer Raise Questions, And: Not All Crime For One GOP House Candidate 

Martinez & Barela
Okay, this reaction by reader Dan Klein to the resignation of state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela might be a bit cruel:

You mean we had an economic development secretary?

Well, yes we did, just not much economic development sine 2011. But the job is probably above anyone's pay grade, given the shape of the state on so many levels. Barela scored a few wins, acted genially and escaped some messy office politics that could have ended his career.

His necessary obsequiousness to Martinez and the limited tools she advocated in advancing economic development confined him largely to the role of cheerleader. He leaves Sept. 30 to become executive director of the nonprofit Borderplex Alliance in El Paso, which is co-chaired by former GOP Governor and current NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers.

It's a good time for him to leave as the economic punishment of our state is about to accelerate. (Don't say we didn't tell you). Martinez has two years and four months left on her final term. (Not that anyone is counting :).

Barela, a native of Las Cruces, ran for the ABQ congressional seat in the Tea Party year of 2010. He scored 48% against Dem incumbent Martin Heinrich.

And in another Martinez cabinet note, yes, we still expect former state Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn to become the next executive director of the NM Oil and Gas Association. . .

This week's Best Fiction Writing award goes to the spinmeisters at the Borderplex Alliance who wrote this of Barela's cabinet stint:

Barela joins Borderplex after leading New Mexico's unprecedented trade efforts, successfully reducing the state's unemployment rate, quadrupling exports to Mexico, and creating a business-friendly climate during his tenure as cabinet secretary.

But then there's this reality about Barela's tenure as described in 2014 by Mother Jones magazine:

A. . .whistleblower lawsuit filed in New Mexico state court makes a series of explosive allegations against appointees of. . . Martinez, accusing high-ranking officials in her administration of public corruption, mismanagement, and intimidation. It claims that officials at the state's economic development agency engaged in extramarital affairs that could expose the state to sexual harassment charges and that officials tried to silence employees who reported contracting violations and other wrongdoing.

That whistleblower suit is still being adjudicated. One of the parties tells us the trial date with a jury is set for January in Santa Fe

Happy travels, Jon. We'll see you at La Posta.

REPLACING BARELA?

Who should replace Barela as Econ Secretary? How about instead we take his salary and hire border guards to keep all the kids with advanced degrees from leaving the state?

PNM'S DEMONS

Carolyn Glick
What is with the unseemly demonization by PNM allies of the hearing officer who does not agree with the electric company's rate increase request--a request that would add over 14 percent to the average residential bill?

The Glick bashers are acting like they consulted the Nixon White House or the Guv's political machine and put Carolyn Glick on some sort of enemies list because she once was a member of the Sierra Club, a long-established  environmental group that PNM loathes.

Glick's doubters say that the past membership tainted Glick's findings and they continue to push that smear via the news and op-ed pages.

Click is getting all the grief because she did the state a favor and reduced the recommended rate hike for residential use from over 14 percent to 6.4 percent.

If Glick was so caught up with radical enviros, why didn't state sanctioned monopoly PNM make that objection long before Glick undertook her hearings and came with her findings?

What's next? You have to be a Republican to hold a job that impacts the electric company? Or take a loyalty oath to PNM?

Below-the-radar PNM Chief Executive Patricia Vincent Collawn seems to be allowing the executive quarters of PNM to become a stew of paranoia that has hatched a plot to discredit an imagined opponent. Are they running an electric company or a subrosa political campaign there?

Here's the deal: PNM needs to answer the questions regarding its rate case in a professional and thorough manner, stop the stonewalling and call off the McCarthy-like attack dogs on a bureaucrat simply trying to do her job.

As for the PRC ruling on the rate case that is due next month, the five commissioners ought to miniaturize that PNM hike just as Glick recommends, and as have previous commissions when PNM came with inflated, outlandish rate requests.

NOT ALL CRIME

Here's one GOP state House Incumbent who isn't betting the House on an "all crime, all the time agenda:

. . . Join State Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes for a free job fair she's hosting in Albuquerque on August 31 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the CNM Workforce Training Center! More than 60 different employers will be in attendance, looking to fill more than 1200 positions. Jobs will be available in a variety of different sectors, including healthcare, telecommunications, energy, construction and many more.

Barnes represents a swing district in the NE Heights and portions of the Valley and faces a stiff challenge from Dem Ane Romero who is expected to hit the jobs issue hard.

Back on the crime beat, reader Alicia Hicks writes of ABQ events mourning the heinous slaying of 10 year old Victoria Martens:

Joe, Reading the front page it occurred to me that NM is really good at two things: reacting and celebrating. We know how to plan and execute a celebration quickly. It looked like a nicely planned event to mourn the loss of this little girl as well as to honor her brief stay in this world.

What we also are good at is reacting to tragedy. We do that very well. What we are not good at is being pro-active about much of anything. I don't know if we are unable or untrained or just don't care but something has got to change or we will be celebrating another tragedy somewhere down the line. Drug, alcohol and mental health services have got to be fully funded. It's got to be a priority.

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