Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Santa Fe's "Creative Confusion"; Special Session Already Sinking, Plus: Dems Hit Domenici On Money, And: State Gambling Woes; Raton's Long Wait 

Sens. McSorley & Ryan
The Special Session is already sinking. The proposal to up the tax on a pack of smokes by 75-cents was killed in the crib only hours after the session started Monday, perhaps foretelling the fate of the effort to partially reinstate the hyper-controversial food tax.

For ABQ Dem liberal state Senator Cisco McSorley this special and the budget pact conceived by the legislative leadership prior to kick-off is already headed for the ash heap of history:

I don't think it (the budget package) has the support to get out of the Legislature he declared.

It won't take much for Cisco's prediction to come through. If liberals coalesce with anti-tax Republicans the only motion that will pass is one for adjournment.

And the bizarre scheme the leadership cooked up to sneak a partial food tax through---wash your hands of it and make the cities do it--was already starting to stink up the Roundhouse like a burrito gone bad.

ABQ GOP state Senator John Ryan called the food tax ploy "creative confusion."

John, you're being charitable. How about "creative cowardice?"

The out of sync legislative leadership and the stubborn Governor are so misreading the public mood, they're going to have call in education boss Veronica Garcia to give them some remedial reading lessons.

The public wants business and others who benefited most from the crazy go-go years to shoulder their share of budget pain, but the capitol is being protected from the populist outrage like it was old Fort Marcy, not the people's Roundhouse.

McSorley and Ryan are about as far apart as you can get on the political spectrum, but both know you don't spray lysol on garbage to kill the smell. You have to throw it out. Someone grab a Glad bag. This budget deal needs to be sacked.


Republicans seem to have the imagination of a scarecrow when it comes to solving the state's budget crisis. Their one trick pony is "no tax increases anytime." But politically they are getting the upper hand over the Dems. Their message may be unimaginative but it is clear as a bell. Their base knows where they stand. The Dems message--diluted as it is by dozens of differing messengers-- is about as meaty as turnip soup.


Rio Rancho reader Joe Barela wrote to the state's lawmakers and told them it is time for the Legislature to "man up:"

1. Do an across the board spending cut for all agencies and projects. 2. Layoff all the State employees you have to, do it now, do it fast, as it is less painful that way. 3) Place a moratorium on educational spending.

If you take bold measures to resolve our budget problems then you just might get to keep your job...If you take bold measures, then the taxpayer might want to hear you talk about tax increases. Bold decisions mean that you have to “man-up." Got that?

We got it, Joe, but we wonder what the lady legislators do in lieu of "manning up."


David Salman, House Majority Leader from 1971 to 1978, died Monday. As the wires reported:

Salman was part of the so-called "Mama Lucy Gang," a coalition of Bernalillo County liberals and largely northern New Mexico representatives that controlled the House until the late 1970s...

Salman, 74, was in the House when Walter Martinez of Grants, father of present day Majority Leader Kenny Martinez, was Speaker of the House.


We were peeling the onion on the first contribution report from GOP Guv candidate Pete Domenici Jr. last night and found that he raised a total of $260,000 since announcing his candidacy January 17. Domenici gave himself $50,000 and his father, retired US Senator Pete Domenici, gave him $5,000. The senator's former legislative director, George Romanos, also chipped in $5,000. The campaign reports that another $50,000 was raised from 10 Phoenix friends.

The state Democratic Party, seemingly on high-alert over the Domenici candidacy, came with the reaction to the report:

“Given all of his early gaffes and mistakes, it’s not surprising that Pete Domenici Jr. wasn’t able to raise as much money as he wanted,” said the party.

A spokesman for Domenici said they are delighted by the Dems reaction:

Their response is rooted in dreadful fear of losing the Governor's office.

Democratic insiders differ with some of their GOP counterparts and continue to bet heavily that Domenici will emerge June 1st as the GOP nominee. That's why the state Dems are hammering early and often.


On the handicapping front, the Pete Jr. camp is sounding increasingly pessimistic over its chances of getting 20% of the delegates at the March 13 GOP preprimary convention. That's the number needed to get an official spot on the June 1st ballot. Otherwise, you file additional petition signatures to make it on.

Most of the delegates, Domenici insiders say, were locked down during months of campaigning by their rivals and changing minds at this late date is not in the cards. The campaign is focusing more on the June 1 primary now, rather than the party convention.

Like some other candidates, including Dem Diane Denish, Domenici is releasing periodic fundraising reports even though the next required state report isn't due until mid-April. However, Domenici is not releasing how much cash he has in the bank or his campaign expenditures until that April report.

As we blogged yesterday, Domenici's fund-raising is decent compared to his rivals, but not enough to chase anyone out of the race.


Here's something Dave Garduno and Doug Vaughan could use. "Rich Dad" is coming to ABQ.

A one time real estate icon, Vaughan is being investigated for running a Ponzi scheme. Garduno of restaurant fame owes the state nearly a million bucks in taxes. His restaurant chain is letting go of 100 workers as he closes two locations.

While business across the board continues to struggle, there's some optimistic news peeking through. The Angel Fire ski resort is reporting good traffic this season, saying things are slow during the week, but weekends are busy. Nothing against the skiers, but we prefer the hills at the Angel Fire golf course. But we'll all have to wait until mid-May to see them.


The bear market marches on inexorably. Now there's trouble in Raton getting the racetrack and casino there opened. We saw the planned Racino for Moriarty fall through last year as credit tightened. Are we in for a repeat? And is the state Gaming Control Board all over this as they should be? They keep extending the deadlines for the owners to get this deal moving.

A recent visit to Sandia Resort and Casino revealed a cost saving measure as the recession takes its toll on gambling revenues. Instead of posting a guard at the front entrance to greet visitors and help those needing assistance, the casino has now installed an automatic revolving door. Gone is the paid security officer.


And a final gambling note. Don't show this to your wife, but we laughed the other day
(inappropriately, of course) when we heard Dean Martin sing:

A wife in Vegas take my advice, it's like going to China with a sack of rice.

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