Thursday, December 27, 2018

ABQ's Continuing Crime Challenge Shadows Holidays And At The Movies For The New Year  

It's been another of those years in ABQ, prompting this irresistible jab at the city's continuing battle with crime. Hopefully Santa made it to your place unscathed and in one piece. It wasn't easy. As Christmas Eve arrived two officer involved fatal shootings had Santa on the defense.

In 2018 the murder rate in the city again soared to near record levels. And rather than being "crimes of passion" that law enforcement can do little to prevent, on closer scrutiny many of the killings are related to drug dealing. Are the administration and city police putting enough emphasis on that? If the murder meter continues to soar it will be a question that will hover over them in 2019.


It will be yet another legislative session when heated debate occurs over using a portion of the $18 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education. The debate has raged for a decade, with a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to allow use of the the fund passing the House several times but stalling out in the Senate Finance Committee, led by conservative Dem John Arthur Smith.

Back in 2013 Smith engaged in a 15 minute debate over the proposal with Allen Sanchez, CEO of CHI St. Joseph's Children (who we work with) and who is pushing the amendment. Since then the state has seen a worsening of its standing in the child well-being standings but Sen. Smith has indicated he is not going to change his mind. So like a ghost of Christmas past here's that '13 debate as lawmakers prepare to revisit the proposal yet again at the '19 session.

Reader Tom Miles who tracks such matters reports:

In FY 2017-18, about $689 million was withdrawn from the Fund. About $585 million (85%) went to Common Schools (PreK/K-12); about $34 million (5%) went to Higher Education, and about $70 million (10%) went to 12 other beneficiaries. Total state FY 2016-17 education budget was $3.23 Billion of which $619 million LGPF education contribution was about 19%.

A popular version of the constitutional amendment for early childhood would appropriate about $150 million a year from the LGPF  for ten years. Miles says the LGPF has more than doubled in value since falling to about $8 billion in the financial crisis of fiscal year 2007.


We're in the middle of the peak movie season. Reader/reviewer Eric Lucero is in the thick of it and says two period films currently playing warrant five star ratings:

Mary Queen of Scots (R) ☆☆☆☆☆ Writer Beau Willimon of "House of Cards" fame seamlessly crafts a complex true story of 16th century power politics into one that will drive Queen Mary (Saoirse Ronan, an Irish American actress) and English Monarch Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie) to blows!

Their conflicted lives, loyalties, and their timeless struggle to survive in a man's world are worth the ticket price alone. But, there can "only be one" winner in their world; and that singular Ruler is destined to become one of history's most powerful women. Ronan deserves an Oscar, as does Willmon. "Scots" is among 2018's Best Films.

The Favourite (R) ☆☆☆☆☆ Greek Director Yorgos Lantgimos (The Lobster-2015) offers his least surreal and most meaningful film to date with another historic costume drama about two impetuous, willful and gifted women; Lady Sarah Churchill (yes, an ancestor of 20th century statesman Sir Winston) played with zeal and panache by Rachel Wiesz (Disobedience-2017) and her ne'er-do-well cousin Abigail, also played exceptionally by Emma Stone (La La Land-2016).

Both battle feverishly for complete dominance over and the singular affection of the frail 18th century English Queen Anne (Olivia Colman, The Crown-2017). Which scheming and conniving suitor will become The Favourite? This Trinity of power is funny and highly entertaining, as is the supporting cast. The Favourite is among 2018's Best Films.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Possible Star For Lujan Grisham Cabinet And A Cautionary Tale To Go With It, Plus: Susana's Final Pizza Party 

Alicia Keyes
The cabinet picks made so far by Gov.-elect Lujan Grisham are getting points for their experience and competence, but the one that stands out is 43 year old Alicia Keyes as the Secretary-designate for the NM Economic Development Department.

Fresh from a stint as head of the ABQ Film Office, hopes will be high for the 43 year old. That's because she is credited with helping steer a huge investment by Netflix into the city, one of the bigger economic coups of the past economically listless decade.

Keyes, an ABQ Academy grad, says she was starstruck when as a young woman she attended a TV conference and Oprah Winfrey came walking toward her. She went on to write and produce films and landed an executive position at Disney.

Critics of the appointment may be concerned that Keyes is to Hollywood-centric and that the lion's share of her attention will be devoted to expanding the state's film industry, her first passion. But the skills needed in landing Netflix would seem transferable to other deals and industries that the state is in dire need of.

Keyes will be challenged to simply not duplicate her role as a film booster. If she can, her new job could be a breakout role for her--and New Mexico.


Perhaps a cautionary tale for Keyes and other soon to be cabinet secretaries is the harsh lessons learned by Monique Jacobson, the outgoing head of the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), and once heralded as a rising political star.

She started out as head of the state tourism department. Given her background in marketing for Pepsi, she made a pretty good run of it. Then, perhaps with the idea of positioning her for political office someday, Gov. Martinez named her head of CYFD. It was an unmitigated disaster with Jacobson's tenure stained by the most horrific cases of child abuse and murders in modern history.

The well-intentioned Jacobson was working way above her pay grade. Her failure (and that of Martinez) was not to see it from the start and back out of the post but she went forward, irrevocably damaging herself and the prospects of thousands of disadvantaged New Mexico children. (And no amount of last minute PR puffery is going to change the damning judgment of history.)


From Santa Fe:

It’s the pizza party that never ended for Gov. Susana Martinez. Three years after a loud holiday party in the governor’s room at a downtown Santa Fe hotel received widespread attention — and helped end any talk about Martinez being considered for national office — a local food delivery service is featuring her likeness on a coupon offering $10 off on deliveries of pizza and Coca-Cola. 

“Celebrate our governor’s last few days,” says a post on Dashing Delivery’s Facebook page. “Say arrivederci with a pizza party. Order pizza and coke from a participating restaurant and get $10 off your order.” Four Santa Fe pizza purveyors — Il Vicino, Pizza Centro, Pizzeria da Lino and Rooftop Pizzeria — are taking part in the promotion.


Here's the newest addition to the NM State Senate:

Gregg Fulfer, a Jal rancher and business owner, was appointed to the state Senate on Friday to fill the vacancy created by Carroll Leavell’s retirement. Gov. Martinez announced the appointment. Fulfer, a Republican, has served on the state Economic Development Commission and Environmental Improvement Board, and he’s a former Lea County commissioner. Fulfer said he would work closely with Leavell, his father-in-law, to ensure a smooth transition.

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