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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A Stinging Rebuke For Santa Fe Mayor As Sugar Tax Fizzles, "APO" Comes Into Dem Guv Race, PNM Stock Soars On Rate Increase And New BernCo Dem Chair Says He's Not Too Old  

Well, that ought to stop the talk about a "Governor Gonzales." In a stinging rebuke to Mayor Javier Gonzales, Santa Fe voters turned sour on the proposed sugar tax and in doing so probably ended the chatter of Gonzales pursuing the '18 Dem nomination for Governor. The display of political weakness--even if national money played a big role in the victory--is still a loss of prestige and mayoral power. The measure was going down late Tuesday by a 57% to 43% margin.

The size of the defeat surprised many observers, including us, given Santa Fe's fairly liberal nature. But special elections can often deliver curve balls and Gonzales made a major miscalculation in bringing the Bloomberg-backed tax into his town and losing.

The money raised would have been used for pre-kindergarten programs and the defeat had conservative groups such as the Koch Brothers funded Rio Grande Foundation gloating over the loss, saying it signals NM voters are not really that much in favor of pre-K. But the proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters to tap a small portion of the nearly $16 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund for very early childhood education programs would not mean a tax increase and it has overwhelming polling support, according to the ABQ newspaper.

Carolyn Serafin-Abeyta wrote on Facebook:

I'm an educator, and didn't feel this was the best way to fund any form of education. What NM citizens are failing to recognize is that this entire election stems from desperation. The real issue is the fact that certain elected legislators along with this do-nothing governor have neglected the needs of education for far too long...

And Gerald Pacheco reacted to the vote this way:

We have become so self-absorbed that we are trying to tax working families to fund state initiatives and wealthy elite interests. The elite political class in Santa Fe ignored their working class base. If Democrats want to win again, go back to your base.

And then there were the well-compensated Gonzales consultants. Hello, Sandra Wechsler and Eli Lee, this Alligator strike appears meant for you:

This vote is like Trump winning Santa Fe County 60-40%. Any Dem consultant who had their fingerprints on any part of this disaster should never be allowed to work in he state for another 5 to 10 years. But they'll probably be allowed to move on to the next cow that they get to milk.

To the victor go the spoils. To the losers, go the long knives in the back.

APO COMES IN

Jeff Apodaca, 55, made it official Tuesday, launching a 90 second video to introduce himself as a Dem candidate for Governor.

Apodoca is the son of former Dem Guv Jerry Apodaca ('75 -79) but says he won't campaign in his shadow, saying he is not a "legacy" candidate but someone who brings his own skill set to the race as a businessman and wants to turn NM around by increasing investment in local businesses and education.

It didn't take long for the Alligators to strike Apodaca, (welcome aboard, Jeff) singling out his somewhat ambiguous logo, "APO 18." For a candidate needing name ID, they digged, that leaves a lot on the table. One wag scoffed that the symbol looked more fitting for a comic book cover than a Guv run. And another mused: "Is that "APD?"

Fortunately for Apodaca, his smoothly produced video went over better. He appeared knowledgeable and likable. Like his father before him, the camera likes him. One GOP consultant said: "There's a lot of  'I want to win the Hispanic and Catholic vote' in that video."

However, Apodaca looks more comfortable in his citified sport coat than when he does what all Guv candidates eventually do--dons a cowboy hat to cultivate the rural crowd.  Well, as long as he doesn't try to rope a steer on camera, we suppose the state is safe.

(Anti-alcohol abuse candidate Peter Debenedittis of Santa Fe is also running for the Dem nod for Guv but is not expected to be a major player.)

SLOW THE TRAIN

Hey, PNM, your stock price is already trading in record high territory.. Can you slow the rate train down now?

Public Service Co. of New Mexico’s net earnings rose four-fold in the first quarter of 2017, from $4.1 million in the same period last year to $16.5 million this year.The increase largely reflects a 10 percent rate hike for average residential customers that took effect last October. . . The utility is seeking Public Regulation Commission approval for another 14 percent rate hike that would be phased in over two years.

NEVER TOO OLD

New BernCo Dem Party Chair Bill Peifer responds to criticism heard here that the party i tilting too old and too white under his watch:

Your “Alligator” is a bit off base with his comment about me and their analysis of the appointments that I made. I’m 67, not 68. That’s minor, but I make it in the interests of accuracy. Not so minor is the observations about the appointments that I made which include Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair Steve Estrada (obviously a Hispanic) and Co-Chair of the External Relations Committee Ane Romero (36 and Hispanic). 

I made appointments based on my confidence in the individuals to do their jobs well. Naturally, age and experience are somewhat key to being able to judge “past performance” so it’s not terribly surprising that people of somewhat greater age and experience were tapped. As younger people step up they will replace, as quickly as possible, those older people. 

As far as race, I am seriously color blind. I wouldn’t have noticed that Anglos dominated if your “Gator” hadn’t pointed it out. “People of color” are absolutely encouraged to get involved, and when they do they will be integrated into the structure I’m building and move, as their display of dedication warrants, into leadership positions. But the task in front of us is far too important for me to put an inexperienced person in charge of an important committee just because some nay-sayer thinks that the color of one’s skin is more important than experience.

A SERIOUS CUT

A reader writes of the ABQ Public Schools budget controversy:

In 2009 APS received $621 million from the state. For the current year the figure was $620 million. The PED says that is a result of a decline in enrollment. However, I found an inflation calculator online that says $100 in 2009 is equivalent to $113.55 in today’s dollars. $621 million = $705 million in inflation adjusted dollars. That's a serious cut in funding just in accounting for official inflation figures alone and not including teacher pay increases mandated by the tier system.

MY BOTTOM LINES

In a first draft we had the incorrect year for the last time an ABQ mayoral election did not feature an incumbent. The correct year is 1997 when Democrat Jim Baca won. . . And readers continue to weigh in on our blog from last week that called into question the performance of APD Chief Gorden Eden. This reader scoffed at praise given to Eden by Ray Rodgers:

Hello Joe , if Mr. Rogers considers us "lucky to have his experience" what the hell does he consider unlucky? Chief Ray Schultz, Daryl Gates of Los Angeles? I guess Mr.  Rogers has set the bar very low when it comes to law enforcement. Eden's law enforcement expertise is nonexistent. He is a political hack who was forced to remove service hash marks from his sleeve.

It will be a crowded field for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Grisham. The latest to file the official paperwork for a run, as expected, is former NM Dem Party Chair Deb Haaland, a native of Laguna Pueblo. . .

The ability for readers to comment below the news stories in the ABQ Journal has been restored after being eliminated recently and drawing criticism. The Journal's Donn Friedman says:

The Journal has restored the Facebook commenting feature to the bottom of stories after looking at options to better serve our readers and customers. Just click on "Load comments" at the bottom of any story to comment or to read the comments. Clicking on Load comments will load the comments box. It may take a few days for this to appear on all new stories.

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