Monday, June 09, 2014

Right On Schedule: King Gets Hammered With Early TV While Susana Puts On Positive Face, Plus: Tax Hike Mania Hits Metro, And: On The Spot: UNM Handling Of Activist Prof is Eyed 

Gov. Martinez has pulled out the good cop, bad cop routine on Gary King. The Republican Governors Association signed up for bad cop duty, coming with the first negative TV ad about the Dem Guv nominee's record as attorney general. Simultaneously, Susana starts off as good cop in her first ad of the general election, talking of her humble beginnings.

The RGA TV attack on King--to the tune of some $120,000 on broadcast stations and another $20k or so on cable--was utterly predictable, having been telegraphed by anyone with the title of "political insider." They warned that the Guv would come early for King in an effort to define him out of the gate and try to end this Guv contest before the July 4th fireworks graced the skies above Isotopes Park.

And then there's the first round of polling. If King shows signs of life in it, the perception of the race could tilt. The negative TV ads could have an impact any nonpartisan surveys taken in the weeks ahead. That could make it harder for King to raise money.

King's last report showed him with less than $80,000 in cash and in no position to go toe-to-toe with Martinez in the early rounds. But to see no response at all to the RGA assault--not from the King campaign or the state Democrats--not from anyone--was quite stunning. Are we going to have a campaign here or a concession?


The RGA ad trots out that old reliable from Dem Party Chairman Sam Bregman in which he calls King "the worst attorney general" ever. Bregman now says he leveled the slam in his role as a private attorney during litigation, but why no full-throated retraction of the statement? Not that the King record as AG has been stellar, but that's another story--one that will be told time and again for the next five months on a TV screen near you. . .


The paucity of any good statistics about New Mexico's standing has been so striking in recent years that when news arrived that the state's high school graduation rate had improved, it was like spotting a cat at a dog pound. What's that doing here? 

The graduation rate is said by Education Week to have gone from 59 percent for the class of '07 to 74 percent for the class of '12. That still leaves the state 44th in the nation, but headed in the right direction. 

As you would expect the Martinez administration is quick to take credit for the good news, saying it shows its education reform efforts are working. But Martinez did not take office until January 1, 2011. She was Governor only 15 months before the May 2012 class graduated. But after widespread rancor in the education community over her proposed reforms, the graduation news plays into her theme that she is the education governor. 

Normally, you would score the victor of the Democratic primary as the big political winner of the week, but Martinez got the opponent she wanted in Gary King, the RGA went up with unanswered TV attack ads and the news cycle broke her way with the education news.  Mark your scorecards accordingly. . . 


All of a sudden--like weeds after a spring rain--tax increase proposals are sprouting all over the metro. Tax hikes in an anemic economy like this, you ask?

At today's ABQ city council meeting several councilors will push to raise the gross receipts tax in the city by one-eighth of a cent. That would take us over the already high 7 percent mark. It's a tax increase that everyone can love to hate. Liberals especially despise it because the tax is harshest on low income families. Conservatives scorn it for the burden it places on businesses.

The councilors who want the increase say its needed to fund additional programs for the mentally ill and homeless. Yet even after scaling back the number of vacant police officer positions they funded in the recently approved budge, the city is still funding at least 100 positions that will not be filled in the next year. Why not use that money?

In a budget of nearly $500 millions there is surely cash to be found for one of the most pressing priorities in the city--the treatment of the mentally ill and homeless. While the councilors look for it, Mayor Berry--if need be--can use his veto pen to thwart any tax boost that makes it to his desk. . .

And then there's the Bernalillo County Commission. It's discussing a property tax increase to fund open space projects. The increase would only raise $1.5 million a year. You need to raise taxes to find that puny amount? How much a year does the county spend on out-of-state travel? Start with that and you'll be at a million in no time. . . .

It's too late to gripe about the property tax increase imposed on homeowners in the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.  It snuck up on them like a thief in the night. . . .


David Correia
UNM President Robert Frank is getting what seems like some pretty sage advice--messing with the job of UNM assistant professor David Correia--who has been in the forefront of the protests over APD's fatal police shootings--is a loser. Firing or marginalizing Correia would only make him a martyr to the cause and in turn cause UNM major grief nationally and internationally grief. We've had enough of that with the publicity over the fatal shooting.

And why would Frank want to stymie Correia? A university is supposed to be dedicated to the open and free expression of ideas--even if those ideas are unpopular with the populace at large. You don't get much of that vibe when you read the UNM statements about Correia.

Corriea is charged with "felony battery" on an officer, but if you look at video of the sit-in at the Mayor's office where the alleged battery took place, it looks like much ado about nothing--or very little.

Meantime, Frank and the entire city establishment need to chill. What did they expect when homeless James Boyd was shot and killed by APD? Or when relatives of over two dozen shooting victims heard the Justice Department report that their relative may have needlessly had their life taken?


In a first draft of the Friday blog we misidentified the state US Senator Jon Tester represents. He is from Montana.

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