Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Berry's Stimulus: Government Hiring Spree Underway; Isn't That Like Obama? Plus: A Return To ABQ City Council for Sally Mayer?  

What's this? A government stimulus program from a Republican mayor? That's right. ABQ GOP Mayor Richard Berry, gearing up for his October re-elect, announces that City Hall will be hiring 160 city workers through mid-summer, the first substantial hiring since he took office in 2009. In fact, city government has been shrinking, one of the reasons for the extraordinarily long recession here. Berry apparently hopes to improve upon his job creation record by filling vacant city positions, but what about all that private sector job creation the mayor says is the key to our economic growth? Where is that?  Well, as you know, it just isn't happening:

The Albuquerque metropolitan area lost 900 jobs over the year that ended Feb. 28 for a negative .2 percent growth rate. The area’s construction sector shed 400 jobs for a negative 2.2 percent growth rate. Manufacturing lost 500 jobs for a 2.8 percent decline, and retail trade lost 900 jobs for a 2.2 percent decline.

How does Berry's conservative base feel about his government hiring spree? We don't hear them attacking it as they did Obama's stimulus plan.

The city justifies the hiring stimulus by reporting that it now employs 5,841, down 4 percent from the 6,073 when Berry took office in Dec. 2009.

Berry unveiled his stimulus without even a hint of irony. But the Alligators who have been pounding the table over the need for more stimulus in this cash-starved city and state took notice. And they say to  Berry: "Welcome aboard, Mayor. We've been waiting for you."

(Available city jobs are listed here).


Could Sally Mayer make a political comeback? Maybe. The former ABQ GOP City Councilor is making the speculation list over who Mayor Berry will appoint to replace GOP Councilor Mike Cook who resigned in the wake of his DWI arrest. Mayer joins another well-known GOP name on that list--former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones.

Mayer held the Cook seat from 2001 to 2009. A key factor here--Mayer landed a job at NM Expo and is in much better stead with Jay McCleskey, the political eyes and ears for Berry and Gov. Martinez. Arnold-Jones is on the Jay hit list and might not be as reliable a Republican vote on the council. Mayer's daughter is the director of the state tourism department so the ties are strong. But Mayer would be no slam-dunk for re-election in the October election.

And what if Sally gets appointed, runs for the four year term in October and is challenged by Arnold-Jones and a Dem or two? That would make for some election watching,


Did you notice this little blurb about ABQ's big police lawsuit losses?

...city officials say they’re not concerned about the solvency of Albuquerque’s risk management fund, which is the pool of money used to pay out judgments and settle cases against all divisions of city government.“Our finances are sound,” city Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry told the Journal. Perry declined to say how much money overall is in the fund.

Is Perry afraid that the trial lawyers will get even more aggressive if they know exactly how much money is in the risk fund? That's no reason to keep this information about taxpayer money under wraps.

Our best info on this came from mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli who said that he was told by City Councilor Rey Garduno that there was about $55 million currently in the risk fund. But why are we guessing? We're paying out millions in lawsuit settlements for police misconduct. The fear is that the settlements will get so large that the fund will be depleted and that the cost of the lawsuits will end up on your property tax bill. And that's a good reason why the press and the open government groups need to surface the fund's status.


Outgoing NM Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales says the Dem challenger to Guv Martinez in '14 will have to raise and spend an alarming sum to pull off the upset. He pegs the number at $8 to $10 million.

The critics will argue one of the reasons that number is so high is that Democratic opposition to Martinez in the Legislature and outside of it has been anemic at best and political malpractice at worst.


Steve Kush, the executive director of the Bernalillo County GOP, comes with this news:

At its recent convention, the Party elected Albuquerque native Frank Ruvolo as its new chairman. Ruvolo, a Party activist who has been helping at the ward level for nearly 15 years, said, "I'm excited to get to work and do what it takes to build a winning organization...and implementing new ideas to motivate the nearly 135,000 registered Republican voters in Bernalillo County...We'll focus on re-electing Mayor Berry and gearing up for the 2014 elections."

And down in Dona Ana County, the Dems there report:

Democrats met on Saturday and reelected Doña Ana County Chair Christy French and County Vice Chair Bill Gomez.

That hot race for State Dem Party Chair featuring ABQ attorney Sam Bregman and Carlsbad attorney Roxanne Lara as the two chief competitors will conclude April 27 when the party's state central committee gathers in Las Cruces to pick a winner.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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