Thursday, September 15, 2016

Narrative Flips On Victoria Martens Murder As State CYFD Comes Up Short In Its Investigation, Plus: Face-off Over Facebook; A Good Deal Or Giveaway? Plus: Insider Infighting Over Facebook Announcement, And: Over 300 Layoffs At Kirtland AFB Cool Facebook Fever 

Governor Martinez pushed hard Wednesday to generate political momentum over the landing of a Facebook data center at Los Lunas but the fallout from the brutal slaying of 10 year old Victoria Martens continued to percolate and shape the state's political narrative. We have the big political picture. First, Victoria.

The heinous crime--one of the worst in the history of the state--prompted Martinez to talk of reinstating the death penalty for child and cop killers, a proposal that no doubt generated considerable public support and that put the Dems on the defense. Now the shoe appears to be on the other foot, with the performance of Martinez's Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) coming under scrutiny over the grisly murder of Victoria and not faring well at all. The news:

Albuquerque Public Schools staff alerted CYFD twice about Victoria Martens’ family. One of those times was just three months before the 10-year-old girl was murdered. Immediately following Victoria’s murder, CYFD said the three accused killers were not on its radar. The agency then clarified, stating the “three suspects were not on their radar for sexual or physical abuse, but that’s not to say they weren’t aware of the three at all.” 

Staff at Victoria’s elementary school contacted CYFD social workers with concerns on at least two separate occasions, and that two different CYFD case workers each interviewed Victoria at school. One of those visits from a CYFD case worker took place in May of 2016, just three months before police said Victoria was brutally murdered. . . 

When asked if CYFD did enough to protect Victoria, Jacobson said, “Again, I truly believe that everyone who’s had any interaction with this child and with this family has lost sleep asking themselves that question . . Our children demand that as an agency we do continually look for ways to do things better and to be a stronger agency.”

That's a world of hurt for Jacobson, a marketing executive who was called in to run CYFD in the aftermath of another notorious slaying and failure by CYFD--that of 7 year old Omaree Varela at the hands of his mother. Jacobson previously served as Tourism Department director.

It's also potentially a world of hurt for Gov. Martinez. If she insists on putting reinstatement of the death penalty on the special session agenda to deal with the budget crisis, the Dems will be sure to drag in Jacobson for answers on why CYFD case workers could twice be alerted about problems with Victoria yet she ends up being raped and murdered in an household that had turned into a house of horrors. Victoria's mother is now reported to have called various men into the home to rape her daughter so she could watch. The last rape ended with Victoria's murder and dismemberment.


The biz cheerleaders are so desperate for any kind of good news you can hardly blame them for their overly enthusiastic response to the decision by Facebook to build a large data center near Los Lunas that will provide a mere 30 to 50 permanent jobs and several hundred temporary construction jobs. Listening to the boosters you would have thought it was 5,000 jobs.

Los Lunas had to give away the farm to attract Facebook, awarding millions in tax breaks to one of the richest companies on the planet, a scheme Utah's economic leaders were far more skeptical of, questioning whether the lost tax revenue would be made up by the handful of jobs. Take a look:

Los Lunas has approved $30 billion in industrial revenue bonds for the data center, and it's also willing to exempt Facebook from property taxes for 30 years. Economic scientist David Swenson believes Los Lunas stands to be a big loser if the deal goes down. Swenson, a professor at Iowa State, has done numerous studies about the economic impact of. . . data centers. . . "At the price you're paying for it, it's a net loss to the regional economy," Swenson said. "When you put this into your economy, the rest of your economy isn't even going to notice that it's there. A data center has virtually no linkage to the rest of your economy, everything that makes it a data center comes from outside your region." Swenson added that even if other tech giants followed Facebook, they would look to the offer the city gave the social media behemoth and use it as leverage to strike a deal that would be similar. "How in the world does the community get paid back for the risk it's taking?" Swenson said.

How in the world indeed?  But who is listening to that? Celebrating an illusion beats facing desperation day after day.


The Facebook announcement was first made by the state's congressional delegation. That immediately sent the Governor's political machine on the attack, coming with these tweets from its Advance NM Now PAC:

Congressional delegation release:"We wrote letter to PRC." Meanwhile, Gov Martinez met with Facebook in California multiple times to recruit. Absurd that (Senator Martin) Heinrich is trying to take credit for Facebook. Did nothing to bring them to NM. All Governor Martinez and local leaders.

Then Mayor Berry, who when we last looked was the mayor of ABQ and not the village of Los Lunas, was enlisted to try to get Martinez the credit she apparently felt she was denied:

Getting Facebook to choose New Mexico did not happen overnight,” said Mayor Berry. This was achieved due to a concerted effort by the State and our Governor, the City of Los Lunas, PNM, and many others. 

What about the congressional delegation, Mayor? As for making New Mexico a "hub" for the high tech industry, as Berry said in that release, then why aren't we getting Intel to expand here instead of shutting down?

Here is the Governor's joint news release with Facebook.


We interrupt this program to remind you that Facebook or no Facebook, the ABQ metro continues to get slammed on the jobs front.  Lockheed-Martin just announced it is laying off 327 workers effective September 30. Those are those high-paying jobs out at Kirtland AFB funded by the US government that our economic developers tell us are bad for us. Thanks for that, fellas.


Sen. Heinrich
The attack on Heinrich by the Guv's political machine brings up the 2018 US Senate race when Heinrich will seek re-election and for which Martinez has been mentioned as his possible Republican foe. But with her approval rating sinking to 43 percent in the latest PPP poll, she is much less a threat than previously. Still, Heinrich and the Dems will keep stabbing at her until they are convinced she is a political corpse.

By the way, a Morning Consult poll released this week has Heinrich's approval at 46% and his disapproval at 29%. But this  seems to be more a case of weak name ID whereas the Guv's lower approval result from her actions. 24% of those polled said they had no opinion of Heinrich.

Senator Udall's approval rating was 54%, 27% disapprove and 19% had no opinion.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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