Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Food For Thought: Restaurants And The New ABQ Minimum Wage, Plus: Media Beat Day: Susana's First Two Years Reviewed, But Where Is Jay? Plus: Susana's Hometown Paper Gets Impatient And A Former Reporter Takes On The Big Kahuna 

Dion's CEO Mark Herman
The state restaurant association is in a fit over the buck an hour increase in the ABQ minimum wage that took effect January 1, but we've had regular increases for decades and the sky has yet to fall. No, the real problem for ABQ restaurants is a tough economy plus too many eateries that are bad values.

But there are good ones and they roll with the punches, absorbing the minimum wage increase as well as the current challenges of the lousy biz climate.

Take the Dion's pizza chain. (We often do). They've been tossing the pies up in the air for 25 years, showing consistent growth and hiring hundreds of teenagers (many at minimum wage, we suppose) to get there. The chain now employs 1,200 in 18 locations in three states. There have been a number of minimum wage boosts since their founding back in '78.

The new CEO is Mark Herman who started there as a teenager himself. One suspects he knows that it's good quality at a reasonable price combined with good training for your employees that are the recipe for success in the competitive restaurant game. The minimum wage is not a major ingredient.

Dion's delivers (well, not it's pizza) but most everything else you want to see in a well-run business. Maybe the restaurant association ought to be concentrating on how they can spread that success, rather than opposing the will of the 66 percent of ABQ voters who approved the increase in the minimum wage?


Mayor Berry works to keep it cool as he reacts to the tongue-lashing he received from former city Public Safety Director Pete Dinelli who announced his candidacy Sunday for the October mayoral election. The mayor telling KOAT-TV news:

Anytime there's an election season, people are going to say negative things. That neither bothers me nor does it surprise me. Tell me exactly what you are going to do--tell me exactly how you are going to fix the problem. Don't tell me you are going to fire everybody and everything is going to be better.

Some people--like Sunday's announcement--become very shrill and angry at the very get go. At the end of the day, what you can do...is put forward a plan and you can work hard and be honest and straight-forward with people. And that's the best you can do. 

That's a pretty good tone, but doesn't firing the current police chief--as Dinelli has pledged--constitute a "plan?" After all, under our city's form of government it is the police chief who is responsible for running the department not the Mayor. It is the Mayor's job to hire the best person for the position and let him do his job. Dinelli does not believe the current chief is running the department properly and wants to bring in a new chief to change the culture of APD which is under investigation by the Department of Justice. That's his plan. Mayor Berry believes the current chief runs the department just fine. That's his plan. Voters can decide which is best.

As for Dinelli being "shrill and angry," that goes to the issue of likability. Berry has scored highly in that category. Dinelli has work to do.


Jay McCleskey
Maybe the new nonprofit operation New Mexico In Depth ought to have a nickname--NM in the bag--for the Guv, that is.

In a lengthy review of Governor Martinez's first two years that was carried in a number of newspapers around the state, not once does the Kellogg Foundation funded article mention the elephant in the room--Martinez's powerful and controversial political adviser Jay McCleskey. How could a review of two years of the Governor's term skip over that vital information? Are they eating soggy cornflakes over there?

Jay, also widely known as the "Shadow Governor," or "Fifth Floor," has been at the center of every major decision in this administration and personally conducted campaigns against a variety of legislators in last year's election, including the most powerful Democrat in the state Senate. He was even prominently featured in campaign media spots, decrying his tactics. And in case, you think we have a bone to pick, remember McCleskey has already been featured in a number of mainstream media pieces, including this one headlined "Campaign guru Finds Unwanted Limelight."

For better or worse, Jay McCleskey is the most influential personage involved with this governor and one of the most influential involved with any Guv in recent history. It is one of the most widely discussed aspects of this Governor's term in political circles across the state. Isn't there a question in there for an inquiring "journalist." Duh.

Any serious, unbiased review of Martinez's administration would save a bottle of ink for the "Fifth Floor." The failure to do so omits the full truth about the nature and motivations of the current administration, even if much of the rest of the report is solid.

You'll read that here--and occasionally elsewhere--but the Kellogg crowd apparently fears it won't get an interview with the Guv if they step on Jay's toes, or even dare look at them.

Where's Tony the Tiger when you need him?


Another report from the same outfit written by a former state public information officer for the Department of Health examines the state's Medicaid future. It's pretty good stuff.


Elsewhere on the media beat...Ironically, it is Susana's hometown newspaper--the Las Cruces Sun-News--not its big city rival--the ABQ Journal--that seems to be the first of the so-called mainstream media that is openly expressing frustration with the lack of progress in the Martinez administration--especially when dealing with the Legislature. It wasn't that long ago that Susana said the "southern press" understood her. Maybe she should remind them. Sun-News Managing Editor Walt Rubel does the take down in this opinion piece:

If the goal was to put the brakes on state government ... mission accomplished. There were 22 more bills vetoed in her first session than were passed in her second. And a special session held between those two for redistricting was an abject failure. Martinez had a terrific debut on the national stage last year with her speech at the Republican Convention. But if she has aspirations beyond governor of New Mexico, or for a second term here, it's not going to be enough to just stop things. At some point she's going to have to do things. And the only way for that to happen is for the governor to work cooperatively with the very same people she has spent the last three years trying to stop.

That's pretty good stuff, Walt. Maybe you ought to ask Kellogg for a grant...


We're are not fans of dumping on the ABQ Journal. We're pretty busy in our own backyard and it gets enough grief as it continues to often position itself politically far to the right in a state that is center to center-left.

But this being media beat day around here we let loose former newspaperman Paul Krza to give you an idea of what the critics are saying:

As a longtime reporter/editor, I wanted to echo and amplify on ex-mayor/journalist Jim Baca's recent observations on your blog about the seeming reluctance of primarily the ABQ Journal and other media to ask Gov. Susanna Martinez any tough questions.

So it was when I saw last Friday's Journal. It must have been a torturous previous Thursday night in the paper when top editors were struggling with what to put on the front page. Sure, we had a local guy (Heinrich) stepping into historic role as a senator, and, yeah, Lujan-Grisham was a first-time Latina D.C. rep with long and strong local connections. But gosh, Susana was laying out her economic revival plan to the Chamber of Commerce. Oh, what to do, with pic and story placement?

The result summed up the Journal's tilt on political and economic coverage: Give Susana top-of-the-fold billing, and a pic, with her favorite photo op, a child included--not by a paper photographer but from a flak at the Chamber! Lujan Grisham's swearing-in story and smaller pic (conveniently, with Republican Boehner) slipped to the bottom, just above the spa-sale ad. Heinrich got bigger photo play, but shoved onto A3. And--oh--yet another gov pic on A2, with the same kid, plus mom, again courtesy of the Chamber.


Maybe some of the journalists are psychopaths who are out of control? (All you politicians reading that please stop nodding.) That's the hair-raising contention we recently came across:

Without further ado, here’s the list of occupations with the highest rates of psychopathy: 1. CEO 2. Lawyer 3. Media (Television/Radio) 4. Salesperson 5. Surgeon 6. Journalist 7. Police officer 8. Clergy person 9. Chef 10. Civil servant

We are proud to note that "Blogger" does not make the psychopaths list, although on some days readers probably feel we belong on the #1 spot, especially when we don't fix the typos.

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