Monday, March 26, 2018

Same Old Story: Census Shows ABQ Population Stagnation Goes On And So Does The Crime Wave, Plus: It's Round Two For Idalia Vs. Debbie And It Could Get Wild, Also: New BernCo Commissioner Arrives 

It's that same old story. The latest federal population estimate for the ABQ metro shows we grew by a mere 0.42 percent for the 12 months ended July 1, 2017. That stagnant population and economic trend in the four county region has been in place since 2010 and is being dubbed "The Lost Decade."

What's not lost on Mr. and Mrs, ABQ is that while the stagnation continues, crime is on the move and to historic levels. Breaking the stubborn crime wave amid an understaffed APD and a lousy economy has been like trying to dent steel with a plastic hammer. We asked longtime APD watcher and retired police sergeant Dan Klein for his latest analysis on the crime crisis:

It would be nice to believe that putting more police on the street is the sole solution to the problem but it's not. The conversation in 2018 has centered on that worthy idea, but what we really need to be talking about for a long-term solution is the economy--the lack of jobs and the drugs and poverty that engenders. We need to be asking Mayor Keller and the Chamber of Commerce what they are going to do to restore economic growth here. Without that, the yearslong crime wave has many more years to go.

There has been little in the way of economic news so far under the new administration. On his website the Mayor says:

My administration is also committed to fulfilling Albuquerque’s enormous potential, by prioritizing job creation, igniting innovation, and fostering broad-based economic growth. For Albuquerque to be successful, we must place increased emphasis on growing the incredible businesses located right here in the City.

The latest Census estimates report that as of last July 1 the ABQ Metro--Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties--had a population of  910,726, up from 906,877 in 2016.

As for the state in the 12 months that ended July 1, the Census says New Mexico had a net outmigration of 4,666 people and that the population grew for the twelve months by a tiny 0.1 percent. But that slight uptick was only because there were more births than deaths. As of July 1, 2017 New Mexico's population was 2,088,070.


Rep. Sariñana
How about another wild ride in House District 21 in the ABQ SE Heights? Well, we could get one if Idalia Lechuga-Tena manages to stay on the ballot but that may be a big if.

Dem State Rep. Debbie Sariñana ousted fellow Dem and then State Rep. Lechuga-Tena in the June '16 primary election. Now they are back for a rematch this June

During the '16 campaign Sariñana raised questions about Lechuga-Tena's residency in the district and she's dong so again. Only this time she has filed an action in district court alleging that the house Lechuga-Tena claims to be living in is actually a rental and that her primary foe owns it but is not living in it. She is asking the court to throw her rival off the ballot.

(The petition to keep Lechuga-Tena off the ballot is here.)

The '16 race garnered statewide attention when Lechuga-Tena, who was born in Mexico,  admitted she had voted in a New Mexico election before she became a naturalized citizen. She said she did so innocently, not knowing she was violating the law and she was never charged with any wrongdoing. Sariñana beat her by five points in a three way June primary.

Lechuga-Tena was appointed to the House seat by the Bernalillo County Commission when a vacancy occurred in 2015. Funny thing, though. It was the two GOP county commissioners who made her appointment to the liberal district possible. Two Dems--O'Malley and Hart Stebbins--voted against her.

Rep Sariñana is a Manzano High teacher. Lechuga-Tena has worked as a political operative and state employee. She recently married lobbyist Macros Gonzales who lives in Santa Fe.

As in '16, this year no Republican has filed for this all-D-all-the-time-district. The winner of the primary takes the prize.

If you like your rides wild this is one you'll want to be on. That is if Debbie doesn't buck Idalia off her horse before the ride gets started. A court hearing on the residency complaint is scheduled for this Wednesday.


Martinez and Smith 
There's a new BernCo Commissioner and thus a vacancy in the State House:

Gov. Martinez announced that she has tapped State Rep. Jim Smith of Tijeras for County Commission District 5. The seat was previously held by Wayne Johnson, who left after being appointed state auditor by the governor. Smith, a retired high school teacher, has been a legislator since 2011, where he represented House District 22. Smith’s district includes the East Mountains, where he lives, and parts of the northeast and southeast heights.

The appointment gives Smith a heads-up in his bid to win a four year term this November. Not that he needs too much of one. The district is heavy R. However, he does have an opponent in the June primary. On her LinkedIn profile Republican Natasha Hadrych-Rosier describes herself a as a radiation therapy manager with 15 years in healthcare. Charlene Pyskoty is running for the seat as a Democrat and Libertarian Michael Wismer is also making a bid.

Smith's departure means Gov. Martinez will also get to fill Smith's House seat with another R.


Attorney General Hector Balderas has given his blessing to southern Dem congressional hopeful Xochitl Torres Small in her Democratic primary with Mad Hildebrandt. The seat is being vacated by GOP Rep. Steve Pearce who is running for Governor. Earlier Balderas endorsed Michelle Lujan Grisham for the Dem Guv nomination, after deciding not to run for that position himself. . .Hildebrandt will host a Facebook conversation on crime tonight at 6. . .

And Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to Barack Obama, has endorsed the ABQ Dem congressional candidacy of Deb Haaland. There are six contenders in that June 5 primary.

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