Monday, May 06, 2013

A Whopper Recession: 3,000 NM Businesses Shuttered, 50,000 Lost Jobs; How Business Survives, Plus: ABQ Health Care; Access Is Issue, And: The Susana Beat: A Not So Cozy Night With VP As Big Bill Shows Up, Also: Her Press Honeymoon Gets Interrupted 

You already know what a whopper of a recession this has been for New Mexico, but stark statistics from the Census Bureau drive home the harsh truth. From 2007 to 2011 the state saw 3,000 businesses close their doors and over 50,000 of us lose our jobs. The collapse of the housing bubble was responsible for nearly half the job losses. In the aftermath of the epic downturn lethargy and sluggishness are the best adjectives to describe the economy in the ABQ metro area.

Local business owners have had to work harder than ever to hold on to a share of the market that shrunk as jobs disappeared and consumers of all stripes cut their spending, either because of a job loss or fear of one.

The best businesses pull through. There's a reason they have been around a long time.

For example, a recent visit to the venerable Keller's Farm Stores, in business in ABQ for 66 years, revealed there has been no backing down from their pledge to deliver quality natural foods. Their meat case is filled with choice steaks, living up to the store's adage of "best quality at honest value." Service is snappy as some budget conscious shoppers order smaller sizes. The consumer will dig deep if the value is there.

Other businesses have been creative in the effort to keep the top line from declining. No doubt the Octopus car wash franchises have seen a drop in customer demand as car owners scale back the number of times they put the Chevy through the wash. To preserve the top line Octopus is now offering comprehensive car cleaning packages at $50 a pop. That's not for everyone but the few who go for them compensate for the cutbacks Octopus is seeing from other customers. Again, service, so often the downfall of ABQ businesses, is snappy and courteous at Octopus.

The long downturn has caused much pain in the ABQ metro, but it has also made many businesses better as they fight to survive and await better times.


The problem in the ABQ area with healthcare isn't about its quality, but about access. A recent visit by a friend to ABQ's Presbyterian Hospital illustrated the matter.

She arrived at the day surgery center shortly before 6 a.m. and was greeted at the front desk by a friendly clerk who briefly interviewed her about her insurance and the upcoming operation and then advised her to take a seat in the waiting room. Shortly after, she was taken to the surgery prep area where a string of visits ensued--from two nurses, an assistant to the anesthesiologist, the anesthesiologist himself and finally the surgeon.

They asked her some of the same questions several times to make sure everyone was on the same page. They were all highly professional and obviously well-trained. The hour-long surgery went well. Afterwards, another nurse briefed her on what to expect in the hours and days ahead. Late in the day she had a concern and called the surgeon's answering service. Her call was returned within minutes and her concern allayed.

Another friend combating health challenges has had to be taken to the Presbyterian emergency room a number of times over the past year. Each time he reports no inordinate wait times and says he received timely and efficient care. He, too, has health insurance.


At the publicly funded University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) officials say average wait times for a bed are at 11 hours and often much longer. They say occupancy is well over 90% when it should be 75%. This is the healthcare received by most of those unfortunate not to have insurance.

There are valid questions about a new $146 million UNMH hospital, but if we are to cease having one health care system for those who have insurance and another that is forced to offer nearly Third World care, we are going to have to continue to invest--just as we are doing with the expansion of Medicaid.


How about that beating former NM GOP Governor and New Mexico State University business school dean Garrey Carruthers is taking? (Here and here).

It comes as the NMSU Regents prepare to announce later today if Carruthers or one of the four other finalists will be the new NMSU president. Odds are now even money that Carruthers ends up with it, but before the press beating it seemed a certainty....


Domingo Martinez is going to be a tough candidate for state auditor in 2014. The Democrat has previously won two four year terms to the post and is finishing up his second term as Santa Fe County assessor. The R's have not elected a state auditor since the 60's. Martinez waits now to see if he draws any primary opponents.


New Mexico Dems upset that Vice-President Biden has been so chummy with GOP Governor Martinez got a wee bit of revenge when she showed up at the Cinco de Mayo party Biden threw late last week. Guess who was also on the guest list? None other than her nemesis--former Governor Big Bill who in 2010 she used as her foil to win the Governor's office. One of our Alligators in DC with a decidedly partisan Dem bent had a ringside seat and tells us how the Richardson-Martinez encounter went down.

About 20 guests were there. Governor Martinez appeared very uncomfortable. It was mostly Hispanic Dems in attendance and she was clearly the black sheep in the crowd. She and Richardson did not appear to speak even though they sat at the same table....

Not exactly a cozy evening for Susana who gifted to the VP some toned-down salsa from ABQ's El Pinto restaurant. But she did get the headlines before the dinner for being invited by Biden and she touted her ability to work with Dems as she approaches re-election in 2014. One supposes being the victim of a Biden-Bill ambush was worth it for her.


There are exceptions to the long press honeymoon that Republican Governor Martinez has enjoyed. Ironically, it comes from her home turf in the south.

Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of the Texas-NewMexico Newspapers Partnership, has come with a string of tough commentaries on the Fourth Floor--including this latest one on the supposed "structural deficit" the Guv takes credit for resolving:

If a politician's resume is lacking in one way or another, the fastest way to beef it up is with a heavy spin cycle. Accomplishments take time, effort and struggle. Spin is instantaneous and potentially just as good politically. Take credit for what you did not achieve. Ignore the lack of jobs in your state. Stick to your story no matter what. So it is with Gov. Martinez. She is as consistent as the desert sunshine in spreading self-serving myths. Martinez, a Republican, will stand for re-election next year without many accomplishments. In the tradition of someone determined to win votes, she is re-inventing how government works in hopes of receiving credit where little is due her....

Can we get Susana and Milan together on YouTube? Let her do it, Jay. You could probably sell fund-raising tickets to that one.

This is it--The home of New Mexico politics.

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