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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On The Econ Beat As The Great Stagnation Continues And Big Bill On Where Dems Go Next  

It's upside down world again at ABQ City Hall. The Berry administration wants to pay $17 million for a downtown parking garage to help out a developer while city revenues plunge because of the lousy economy, leaving a $6 million deficit for the budget year that ends June 30 and that could go higher.

Worse yet, the parking garage deals looks like a giveaway to the developers. While Mayor Berry wants to pay $17 million, a city study says it's not worth more than $5 million. Doesn't anyone remember how the city buying downtown parking garages bombed in the past and ended up costing taxpayers?

Meantime, look no further than the stagnant airport to see the overall stagnant economy. Earlier this year city boosters were touting a significant increase in passenger traffic at the ABQ International Sunport as a sign that the city's anemic economy was turning up. But that turned out to be a false hope, Figures for passenger traffic through October of this year--3, 979,000--compared to 2015--3,959,000-- show hardly any change. Southwest Airlines has cut back on the number of flights serving ABQ prompting complaints that it is more difficult to get in and out of ABQ.

There was a time when the ABQ Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Forum and NAIOP--the establishment business groups of the city--were willing to administer at least mild criticism and occasional stern questioning to the city leadership whether it be Democrats or Republicans in charge, but these once important groups are now harshly partisan. Even the most egregious errors by the Republican administrations in ABQ and Santa Fe are met with a code of silence

OF course, the silence is deafening as the millennials flee for good jobs elsewhere, UNM descends into political chaos, the crime wave fed by meth feeds on itself and a years-long police officer shortage goes on and on with no end in sight. But some of the folks in the aforementioned business groups are making good money and they are keeping their mouths shut. Until, we suppose, a beheaded body with missing testicles shows up in their front yards. Yeah, Merry Christmas, Economic Forum. See you at your next breakfast. Not.

WHAT DO DEMS DO?

That's the question posed to former NM Governor Bill Richardson recently:

It’s a very serious concern. I just went on TV twice today on the Cabinet appointments and I winged it. You need something right now. Trump every day is doing something outrageous. What do we do? Criticize everything he does? Hold back a bit? I know we need to develop an economic message but that's long term. We need something now. Most of the Democrats I talk to are down, and they're asking who’s in charge.

IF SHE GOES. . .

Reader Richard Flores believes if NM Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera lands a job with the education department in DC, as expected, that will be a good thing:

Skandera's departure would  usher in renewed hope that teachers will once again take charge of the educational process in New Mexico, and will concurrently bring back some sanity to the educational experience. With a lame duck governor, and Democratic control of the legislature, I forsee that the PED will be more in favor of greater support for teachers, and educational models designed and implemented by teachers. Skandera will fit in best where her ideas and partisan perspective are appreciated. New Mexico was not that place.

THE BOTTOM LINES

In a first draft Tuesday we blogged yhat Attorney General Balderas had been criticized by fellow Dems for agreeing to a 30 day jail sentence for Secretary of State Dianna Duran who was convicted of corruption charges. Actually, Balderas recommended no jail time for Duran. A judge imposed her 30 day sentence. The linked article explained:

Asked why the Attorney General’s Office argued at Duran’s Dec. 14 sentencing hearing that she should be placed on probation without any incarceration, Balderas told The New Mexican through a spokesman that his office “investigated, charged and negotiated a resolution that contemplated the Court using its discretion to impose up to 8 1/2 years of incarceration. Our recommendation was only a baseline and gave the Court full discretion to sentence up to 8 1/2 years. We must respect the Court’s ability to exercise judicial discretion.”

However, it is not uncommon for prosecutors to argue for jail time when the law allows for it.

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