Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No Foe Yet, But Udall Getting Hit Anyway, Plus: Where Is Everyone? Few Politicos Comment On State's Slide to 50th In Child Well-Being 

He has yet to draw a Republican rival, but that doesn't mean Dem US Senator Tom Udall isn't taking some hits as his '14 re-election bid comes into sight. This ad attacking him on a climate change measure is popping up on New Mexicans computers courtesy of a national conservative advocacy group. Udall, who spent $7 million to win his Senate seat in 2008, is using the early hit to raise cash. From his campaign:

Dear Friend, A group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing special interest group run by the Koch brothers, has launched online ads aimed at me. We don't know how much they're spending. And we don't know how long the ads are going to be up online.

Meanwhile, we await a Republican foe for Udall. Former NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh said last December he would make a decision on a run by "spring." But spring has sprung and gone and the summer heat is on and still no Weh. GOP insiders say he is the only serious name making the rounds and they still think the 70 year old to get in the contest.


Reader John Alejandro, Jr. writes:

Hi Joe, Thanks for leading Tuesday's post with the condition of New Mexico's children, a topic that should be dutifully paid attention to by all elected officials in NM. In addition to taking a risk to solve this problem, it should also be given top-priority. Yet, I haven't read or heard a statement from the Governor or the Children Youth and Families Department....What gives? 

What gives, John, is that the political class just can't or won't deal with the enormity of the problem. For example, Governor Martinez avoided any comment Monday on the report you reference that shows New Mexico has now dropped to 50th--last in the nation in child well-being. Her press secretary told a reporter she was "unavailable for comment."

If the state's chief executive doesn't want to deal with the reality, what can you expect from those below her? Didn't she say her top priority is the welfare of the state's children? Well, it's going to take more than reading to them for a photo op to make a real difference.

It's bipartisan neglect. For decades we've been in the cellar in the social conditions rankings and no one has really stepped up with an all-out effort to reverse the trend.

What's different this time, John, is the severity of the crisis. Being 50th now is worse than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Because of the economic implosion, a larger percentage of our population is impacted. And the state's overall quality of life is now seen as inhibiting business from locating here, adding insult to injury.

It's not like we're a bunch of sloths when it comes to the social conditions crisis. Thousands of New Mexicans each day are fighting for a better life for their neighbors--educators, social workers, engaged parents, law enforcement and the list goes on. But much of what we are doing doesn't seem to be working. The news that the state has stopped funding to 15 providers who treat drug abusers and the mentally ill because of possible fraud only adds to the desperation felt by those in the trenches. It also strengthens that old arch-rival of New Mexico progress---apathy.


Gosh, we don't want to spoil the pool party fun today, but this stuff just keeps coming:

One day after a study ranked New Mexico the worst state for child well-being, another dismal report shows the state is lacking in dental care. The Pew children's dental report ranks New Mexico as having the fourth worst dentist shortage in the country. The study found 24.2 percent of residents live in areas that are under served. Five counties do not have a single practicing dentist...The federal government says there would have to be more than 6,000 new dentists to alleviate the shortage.

And that brings us back to building a dental school at UNM. We could create incentives for graduates to spend a year or two in the under served areas, not to mention that we would be adding members to the sparse professional class here--especially among Hispanics and Native Americans.  Former Senator Bingaman and Governor Richardson advocated for the idea. Can't UNM President Frank pick up this ball and run with it?...

It is the aftermath of the housing crash that still haunts the economic scene in the metro. Reader Joe Craig points out this news that shows years later it is still exacting a toll:

Albuquerque’s 87121 ZIP code area, which generally covers the West Mesa north and south of Interstate 40, had one of the highest foreclosure home vacancy rates in the country at 28 percent, RealtyTrac reported....

And keeping it on the econ scene for a moment, why can't ABQ do something like this?:

Strategies to create quality jobs that could increase the median income for Las Crucens will be discussed by the Las Cruces City Council...Details will be presented to the council on "Wage Plus," a new council-funded program for city government's upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. "When implemented, this program will enhance and advance the city's efforts to fully utilize the local economic development plan and help local businesses grow and to provide funding to help them get there," City Manager Robert Garza said.

In ABQ we are getting a manufactured controversy over the future of the Bosque when it is the economic future of the state's largest city that is really on the line.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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