Friday, December 20, 2013

NM Gay Marriage Goes Legal; Could Pot Be Next? Plus: NM Economy Ending Year On Downer Note It Came In On, Plus: A Ride Through The Third World--In NM 

The times are a changin'--again. And the signs are all around us. There's that landmark NM Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage here and there's this--the continued softening of public opinion on marijuana legalization.

There will be a move in the next legislative session to have a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if they want to legalize the possession of small amounts of pot. It probably won't get approved, but if it did it appears it would have better than a fighting chance to win:

With legal sales of marijuana in Colorado just two weeks away, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds public opposition to legalization declining. Just 29 percent of Americans say they oppose legalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, down from 55 percent in a 2010 AP-CNBC poll. And fewer say legalization would lead to increased use of more serious drugs or harm the economy. 

Dems think that putting pot on the November ballot could drive younger voters to the polls and help them with their statewide candidates.


'14 is coming in like '13 went--the NM economy remains flat on its back:

New Mexico had the slowest personal income growth rate in the U.S. in the third quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said. The state’s personal income grew by 0.4 percent, a slowdown from the 1.3 percent growth rate in the second quarter. Personal income at the quarter’s end totaled $76 billion, up from $75.7 billion in the second quarter.

And what of the political impact of this? Will the argument that it is all Washington's fault resonate next year with the New Mexico electorate? Will there even be any argument in our sleepy state?


The statewide economic downturn has been exceptionally punishing on much of the 30% of the population that lives in rural New Mexico.

Driving around the state this year, we wondered how many towns and villages--dots on the map--will make it into the future. Terry Brunner, state director for Rural Development for  the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says:

There’s this stereotype of rural communities hanging on by their fingernails. These communities are, in a sense, aging out. You have a group of people very concerned about the future, but they’re not the future. We may think our social and economic challenges are isolated, but they’re statewide. And if we don’t all get together and figure them out, we’re all doomed. New Mexico has something really different to offer and part of that is this incredible culture and history that comes out of these rural areas. 

2014 gave us numerous reminders of how this recession has changed the fabric of rural New Mexico--from the extreme water shortage in Vaughan to the closing of the Raton Range newspaper.

With cities attracting a larger and larger share of our population the motto for rural New Mexico in 2014 and beyond may be "Only the strong survive."


The Albuquerque division of the FBI is launching a new initiative aimed at rooting out corruption in rural towns. Officials are tackling what they say is a perception that a certain amount of corruption is acceptable, especially in small towns, so they’re asking rural-community residents to think critically about how money is being spent and contracts awarded by their public officials.

“There’s not a low-grade corruption level that we’re willing to accept for the people of the state of New Mexico,” said the FBI’s chief division counsel, Stephan Marshall...

Hey, does the Downs at ABQ qualify as "rural" for the FBI? Just askin'....


Pajarito Mesa
We blogged above of the economic struggle facing rural New Mexico but city folk don't need to travel far to see some scenes that are right out of the "Grapes of Wrath."

We snapped this pic on a recent drive through Pajarito Mesa southwest of ABQ and a short drive from affluent neighborhoods in the NE Heights.

When you drive the back roads there it  looks like a bunch of abandoned trailers, but more than 400 families spread out over 28 square miles are living in them, without running water or electric power. They haul water in and rely on portable generators. Many of them are undocumented immigrants, but they rent the land they live on. A maze of legal issues make it possible.

The New York Times three years ago did a piece on the problem of Pajarito.  Little has changed. That a sizable Third World enclave could sprout so close to the ABQ metro and remain off the electric and water grid all these years is astounding. And that is accepted as pretty much normal says it all about about the challenges facing NM this Christmas season and all year long.


A reader who says "just call me Steve" writes about this report:

Pat McMurray has been named the new director of the Construction Industries Division/Manufactured Housing Division. Gov. Martinez appointed McMurray, an Albuquerque architect...

And his zinger:

It's amazing that this is the 4th director in 3 years. What is the problem at the state Regulation and Licensing Department which supervises Construction Industries?  The next time the Governor drops into New Mexico from her fund-raising maybe she will  do a little state business?

Maybe it's a question the Legislature should be asking when they look at the budget?

Thanks for stopping by this week and making us New Mexico's #1 political web site.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign