Thursday, June 28, 2018

Back To The Bottom: State Slips To Last In USA in Child Well-Being; More Pressure To Use Permanent Fund To Halt Slide? Plus: Talking Those Polls Again  

The news that New Mexico has slipped back to 50th in the nation in the child well-being rankings could shift the ground again in the debate over using a portion of the state's $17 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for very early childhood education to get us out of the cellar.

The amendment has been repeatedly thwarted in the state Senate where a conservative coalition rules, but the news that for the first time in five years the Kids Count Data Book puts us last in the nation is going to pressure that coalition at the next legislative session in January. That's especially so if Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham is elected Governor. She has pledged her support for the amendment that would go to the voters for approval, if passed by both the House and Senate.

MLG has scaled back the scope of the amendment she would support by limiting the amount that would come out of the Permanent Fund to about $57 million a year for five years, half of what amendment advocates have proposed and shorter than the ten years of funding they want. Republican Steve Pearce is on record against the amendment.

The Governor does not have a direct say on constitutional amendments but in reality it is their political muscle that can make or break one.


We had a critical report up for a while Wednesday about KOB-TV releasing polls that did not use cell phones. However KOB news director Michelle Donaldson says the SurveyUSA poll the station commissioned did include cell phone users and adds:

We reported on the Carroll Strategies (landline) poll and appreciate that they share their findings with us, but we did not pay for their poll. We listened when the Steve Pearce camp complained about landline only polls. We commissioned our own poll through SurveyUSA. And if you looked at their work, you would know it included mobile phone users as well. . . And here’s an interesting fact the cross tab on question three shows that cell phone respondents favor Lujan Grisham by 18 points, while landline respondents favor her by 10.

Here's how SurveyUSA says it dealt with the cell phone issue:

Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (41% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on the display of their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.

That will not complete satisfy the purists who want the cell phone users interviewed personally but they did contact them and get responses so we grant Michelle's point and thus were too rough on the station. SurveyUSA has been quoted here often over the years and their polling has been generally useful.

The Pearce camp criticized that SurveyUSA poll for assuming a higher than usual turnout for the November election.

And not to dump on Carroll Strategies, a respected PR firm which is providing a service, but one that needs to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt until it includes cell users.

The complete SurveyUSA poll showing Lujan Grisham leading Pearce 51 to 38 is here.

Meantime, the ABQ Journal poll, calling cell phones and scientifically configured, remains the gold standard here. But it's not employed often, partially because of ongoing budget pressures, leaving a polling void through the long languid summer and even well past Labor Day.


Former Bill Richardson staffer and longtime journalist Bill Hume comments on Governor Martinez's trip to Taiwan this week:

. . .It is but one of such groups that Taiwan has been hosting for many years. I even went on one during my years in Santa Fe. Included in my group was a bipartisan group of legislators from New Mexico and California. We visited numerous government agencies for briefings and, of course, got the tourist track as well. Taiwan is singularly focused on having a broad cross-section of the U.S. governing class highly informed on the accomplishments and goals of this breakaway piece of China. Susana is the first New Mexico governor to make this trip, to my knowledge, In sum, this is a pretty straightforward and longstanding open outreach program conducted by the Taiwan government.

The president of Taiwan met with Martinez and her delegation during the trip. Here's a report about that.


From BernCo Clerk Linda Stover:

. . . A mobile voting unit will be utilized for the 2018 general election. The mobile voting unit will be placed at or near a different senior facility throughout Bernalillo County each day during early voting from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and is open to all qualified registered Bernalillo County voters.

Hey, don't forget the carless Millennials, Linda. Maybe once in a while wheel that unit over to Marble Brewery.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

On The Media Beat: Journal DC Reporter Ends Long Run; Paper Will Not Replace, And Rio Rancho To The Rescue For ABQ 

There will be no replacement for Michael Coleman, the ABQ Journal's veteran full-time Washington DC reporter who announced this week he will move to his hometown of Austin where he plans on freelancing. His wife, a political consultant, has been named CEO of Texas Charter Schools and Coleman said she quit her job in Phoenix five years ago to join him in DC and now it's his turn.

Coleman says the paper is looking into using a stringer to keep tabs on the congressional delegation, not a full-time correspondent, thus ending a long tradition in NM political reporting.

Coleman has been at the paper's DC bureau 18 years. He arrived when the power of the state's congressional delegation was near its peak with Senators Domenici and Bingaman and leaves while it's at a low ebb, with only one of its five members in the majority party and having no chairs of any of the standing committees. Also, federal funding for the state took a major hit a decade ago and has remained relatively stagnant since.

Years ago the position of DC correspondent for the Journal was a somewhat exotic posting. With no social media it was the state's main link to the delegation but not so in the Internet age. Back then the post also gave the Journal and its publisher a prestige boost but in today's newspaper world the bottom line is a constant concern and expensive reporting of any kind is subject to the budget scalpel. And a physical presence in DC is hardly necessary these days to track what the delegation is up to.

Coleman had a good long DC run, kind of like the state had until the money started to dry up and with it the power.


Who would have thought it would be Rio Rancho that would rescue ABQ from its crime crisis?

"With their aggressive posture towards recruiting, (APD has) taken at least three of our officers already." APD officers start off at about $20/hr. their first year after graduating from the academy. Then, officers move up to $29/hr. It takes a lot longer for Rio Rancho officers to even match APD's pay. "Here, our officers top out at $29 and that takes 14 years to get there. 14 years to get to $29," a spokesman says.

We assume Mayor Keller's future political plans don't include running for anything in the City of Vision.


we joked about State Senator George Munoz not being mentioned on the invite to a "unity" fund-raiser being hosted by Stephanie Garcia Richard who Munoz lost to in the Dem primary for land commissioner. George didn't think it was too funny. He emailed in that he had called and congratulated Garcia Richard on her win. In an apparent reference to the unity party, Munoz said he is dealing with health issues among his family and right now has "other priorities. . .

It's official:

The State Canvassing Board certified the results from the 2018 Primary Election for each contest for statewide office and for districted offices that span more than one county, with the exception of the Republican Primary contest for Public Regulation District 5 as it requires an automatic recount. Secretary Toulouse Oliver’s fellow State Canvassing Board Member Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura was in attendance. Governor Martinez, the third member of the Board, was unable to attend. Every County Canvassing Board in the state convened prior to Tuesday's meeting to certify the unofficial Primary Election results for legislative districts wholly within a single county and county offices.

The official results for the 2018 primary races are here.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Readers Track Susana In Taiwan While Her Old Allies Hop Into Racino Chase, And: It's Unity Minus One For Garcia Richard  

Readers were baffled when we reported that Gov. Martinez's office was not answering questions about her trip to Taiwan this week. That put them on alert, and while the wire services could not get an answer, readers came with this from the Taiwan Online News:

 Martinez. . . arrived in Taiwan Saturday on a week-long visit to promote bilateral cooperation, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). During her visit, Martinez. . .will meet with officials and executives from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Transportation and Communications (and others) 

Members of the governor's delegation include her Chief of Staff Keith Gardner, Economic Development Secretary Matt Geisel, and Secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Ken McQueen, according to the release. MOFA said it hoping that their visit will help build cooperation between Taiwan and New Mexico in the areas of economics, trade, education, culture, and energy technology.

And more. Another reader points out that the NM Trade Alliance is sponsoring a seminar this week on "Doing Business in Taiwan."

On the conspiracy front (always popular around here) a reader wonders if Martinez isn't still hunting for a job with the Trump administration by brushing up on foreign policy.

Also on that front, rumors that Lt. Governor John Sanchez might be in line for an ambassadorship from Trump have gone cold. Guess you can return that Panama hat, John.


It appears to be one of the last feedings at the trough for some name players in the Governor's political machine. Yesterday we told you about the competition underway for the state's sixth and final racino that will be awarded by the State Racing Commission and Gaming Control Board. Today a Senior Alligator informs that ABQ attorney Pat Rogers and former BernCo Sheriff Darren White, both of whom are tight as a tick with Susana, have signed up to work on behalf of Laguna Development, one of several groups vying for the racino and which wants to locate it near Clovis. But hold on. . .

Weren't Pat and Darren up to their kneecaps in the so-called Dirty Downs Deal over the awarding of the racino lease for the Downs at ABQ? They sure were. Darren even got a job at the Downs after the lease deal was secured by Paul Blanchard and company.

And weren't Pat and Darren in 2011 on the opposite side of Laguna Development which competed but lost the lease deal and pondered filing a lawsuit over the denial? Yep. Well, maybe Laguna is doing the old "if you can't beat them, join them" thing.

As we've said ad nauseam there's only one rule to follow in monitoring the Guv's machine and that is "Follow the money."

And then there's longtime PNM lobbyist Art Hull. Our Senior Gator informs that this member in very good standing with the Martinez crowd is working on behalf of a group that is trying to locate the final casino near Tucumcari.

Looks as if Susana has this one covered from a lot of angles.


We mentioned Monday that there has been relatively little talk about what is causing immigrants to flock to the US border--the chaos in Central American countries that make them flee--to which reader Tom Miles says:

Maybe one reason no one wants to talk about the real problem, i.e. drug cartels and violence in Central America, is that the U.S. government was so complicit in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s overthrow of their “leftist” governments?


Dem land commissioner nominee Stephanie Garcia Richard is holding a "Unity Fundraiser" following a bruising primary in which she defeated Garrett VeneKlasen and State Senator George Munoz. But there's something missing from the event:

I want to thank Garrett VeneKlasen for meeting with me and pledging to do whatever necessary to make sure a Democrat is elected in November and we truly can transform the state land office. Check out what GVK had to say about why he's stepping up to help!

Maybe Stephanie forgot to ask George to come. Hey, George, the party is this Wednesday at 1714 Upper Canyon Rd in Santa Fe. RSVP to SGR@StephanieGarciaRichard.com. Have fun, George. Or not.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Racino Watch: Race To Win Sixth And Final One Is Underway; Memories Of Downs Deal Cast Shadow, Plus: Downside To NM Oil Gusher Could Slow Party  

There's a new player in the race to secure the license for the state's sixth and last racino. Actually, the new player is quite familiar. It's My Way Holdings, controlled by the family of the late racing kingpin Stan Fulton and longtime owner of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in southern NM.

Insiders report the Fultons have joined the competition for the racino which has already attracted a number of groups, including one that wants the new racetrack and casino in Tucumcari and another that wants to build it in Clovis.

Applications for the final racino are being taken until the end of July and the process is starting to draw close scrutiny, Memories of the 2011 Martinez administration deal that awarded a 25 year lease for the Downs at ABQ Racetrack and Casino and which critics said stunk to high heaven, are still relatively fresh. That deal was so mired in politics and accusations of corruption that it became known as the Down and Dirty Downs Deal. The FBI investigated but no charges were brought.

The Downs lease came under the purview of the board of Expo NM and the State Board of Finance, but the new racino must be approved by the State Racing Commission and the state Gaming Control Board. Interestingly, the time frame for awarding the prized racino is the end of the year which happens to coincide with the end of Gov. Martinez's tenure. Also interesting is the fact that Laguna Development Corporation, which lost the competition for the Downs lease, is an applicant for the new racino.

Where the final racetrack and casino will go is yet to be determined (probably on the east side) but with the Fultons joining the chase there will be an extra set of eyes watching the process.


Maybe it's her summer vacation?

Gov. Martinez is traveling to Taiwan for a week at the expense of Taiwan's foreign affairs ministry. A Martinez spokesman said that the governor departed Thursday and will return June 30. The governor's office says travel expenses are being paid for by Taiwan. The purpose of the trip was unclear, with no immediate response to requests for more information.


It seems every politician who has ever had an anti-Trump thought is flocking to the border for a photo op over the latest immigration flap. But syndicated columnist Diane Dimond points out few of them appear to be talking about the fundamental cause of the problem:

Sadly, we hear next to nothing about trying to tackle the two-fold root cause of the illegal immigration problem. First, citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico are fleeing ruthless, murdering drug gangs that often conduct business right under the noses of bribery-blind law enforcement officials. Around $2.6 billion of our tax dollars go to aid programs every year that are supposed to help restore peace and prosperity in Central America. Yet, the violence there seems never-ending. Where has all that money gone?

Maybe the politicos need to visit those countries to find out more, but then they would miss out on the TV studio that seems to have been set up on the border.


We blogged last week of the oil gusher in the Permian Basin and how it's creating a cash gusher for state government, but the punch bowl could be pulled in the months ahead. take a look:

The biggest U.S. shale region will have to shut wells within four months because there aren’t enough pipelines to get the oil to customers, the head of one of the industry’s largest producers said. The worsening bottleneck in the Permian region that straddles west Texas and New Mexico offers an unexpected fillip to OPEC and other oil producers outside the U.S., who’ve seen rampant production from America’s shale producers grab market share. "We will reach capacity in the next 3 to 4 months," Scott Sheffield, the chairman of Pioneer Natural Resources Co. said in an interview at an OPEC conference in Vienna. "Some companies will have to shut in production, some companies will move rigs away, and some companies will be able to continue growing because they have firm transportation."

It's the same old story when it comes to New Mexico and oil booms--enjoy it while it lasts because it never does.

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