Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Jagged Path Of The New Mexico Spaceport; Promising Project Falling Prey To Failure Of Politicos 

Martinez & Branson In Happier Time
If anything demonstrates the dysfunctional body politic that has hampered economic development here it's the jagged path we've been on when it comes to the futuristic New Mexico Spaceport. Thus far, all the stakeholders have failed the people of New Mexico.

--It turns out Governor Richardson had a great idea, but he gave away too much of the farm. If Virgin Galactic pulls out of the Spaceport deal next year, the state would be unable to legally reclaim hardly any of its over $200 million investment.

--Governor Martinez entered office with a chip on her shoulder for Richardson and the Spaceport and slowed momentum for it by talking gibberish about more private involvement in the public-private venture. After more than a year of foot-dragging, she finally came on board, but the damage had been done.

---The Democratic-controlled Legislature has failed to pass important liability legislation for the Spaceport, even as competing states get that law on their books.

--Virgin Galactic was ill-advised to play the blame game with the state economic development secretary at a bizarre 90 minute news conference in which they warned the project might end if they didn't get a liability bill. There was no talk of compromise. Virgin leader Sir Richard Branson can do better than that--if he really wants to. So can the Martinez administration.

--NM trial lawyers have failed to step up and publicly encourage a compromise liability bill to save the Spaceport. If Colorado trial lawyers can agree to a bill, why can't ours?

--The conservative mainstream media has bemoaned the mistakes in getting the project started, but rarely celebrate the prospects of the Spaceport or encourage a bipartisan solution.

--The Spaceport Authority and its executive director, acting under the thumb of a less than enthusiastic Governor, has been unable to advance statewide momentum and public support for the project.

Given all of that "bah humbug" is there any hope for saving the Spaceport?

Sure, and there's an example to the north of us. In April Colorado's Governor signed a liability bill for their Spaceport, putting to rest a major problem that haunts ours. The trial lawyers there did not support the measure, but agreed to stay neutral. For the edification of all of those involved, here is the news of the Colorado Governor signing that bill and here's the full text of the bill in  an easy to read format. 

New Mexico can save its Spaceport and the promise of good jobs for the future that it represents, but time is growing short. We need to get busy.


The new year could bring some developments in this case which keeps popping up as the Department of Justice embarks upon a civil rights investigation of the ABQ police department:

The FBI says it will look into how the death investigation of a prominent Albuquerque attorney was handled. Mary Han died in 2010. The state Attorney General's Office contacted the bureau. The FBI will look into whether any federal laws were violated and if an investigation is warranted. Han's family filed a lawsuit against APD, claiming the department botched the investigation of her death. Han was found inside her car at her home. The department said it was a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

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