Friday, June 27, 2014

State Dem Leadership: Time For A Change? Plus: The Readers Write 

We end the week with Gary King finally responding to the nonstop TV onslaught he's been subjected to from the Guv. Martinez camp. The ad is strong but the buy is nowhere near what is being spent against him.

Gary could use a whole lot of back-up, but the state Dem Party seems defunct as do third party groups that might ordinarily be called on to administer first-aid to King and launch some counterattacks....

It raises the question of state party leadership and whether current chairman Sam Bregman should consider stepping aside after the Fourth of July and letting someone take over who is ready to do battle.

A recent op-ed piece from former Dem Guv candidate Alan Webber in which he slammed the Martinez economic record had a number of the Alligators wondering if the Santa Fe businessman might be the guy to take the helm of the party for the campaign months to come. Bregman has indicated no plans to depart and a forced change is unlikely, but the grumbling over the lack of fight in this 21st century Democratic Party is far from over. . .


We still await the first independent, nonpartisan polling on the '14 Guv race, but Bruce Donisthorpe of BWD Global says he was commissioned to do a poll for the NM Republican Party and is now sharing those results.

The automatic phone call poll was taken June 10 and 11 as the heavy TV attacks on King were first starting. It showed Martinez with a 53%-40% lead over King. About 7% of likely voters were undecided. The auto-dial survey included 1,526 interviews with likely voters. The survey’s margin of error is 2.5%.

Donisthorpe has often polled for this blog, but we did not take part in this poll. Donisthorpe also did polling in the Dem Guv primary for candidate Lawrence Rael.

Reader Larissa Lewis writes:

When will someone acknowledge, explain, reveal the subterranean/shadow economy that functions as the matrix for cash flow in Burque?- the drug trade. With one of the highest concentrations of gang members per capita, these guys are not making $8.50 an hour, and with every job lost here, a vacuum is created and probably filled with drug sales. So the crime rate and drug overdoses increase, and thus the negative spiral accelerates. .

Reader Joan Fenicle writes:

I'm hearing that it is difficult to get Gov. Martinez to commit to any forums or debates. A suggestion to the sponsors of these events--don't cancel the event. Just put a cardboard cutout of the missing candidate in an empty chair and hold the event without her/him.

A UNM professor writes:

Joe, during your visit with UNM President Bob Frank did you ask him why the heck UNM is spending its money on economic development and not on its teaching and research mission? It seems to me economic development should be the responsibility of state and local government in collaboration with the business community.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

It Keeps Getting Worse: Crisis Of Confidence In APD Gets Legs As More Video Goes Missing, And: Think Tank Confirms What We Knew: ABQ Is In A Double-Dip Recession 

Mary Hawkes
Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does--at APD, with the foundering metro economy and with the drought and heat so devastating to such a large swath of the state. First APD. . .

The crisis plagued department strained credulity yet again. It reported that there was no video of the fatal police shooting of 19 year old Mary Hawkes and released video that does not show the critical seconds when Albert Redwine was shot to death by an APD officer.

It turns out that the officer who fatally shot Hawkes had his lapel video camera coming on and off multiple times during the hours long incident. But no one in a position of authority--not the company that makes the cameras or the leadership of APD were able to say exactly why. Ditto for the absence of video at the key moment Redwine was gunned down.

The search for certain truth--if there is to be one--will have to be found through the courts--either through criminal investigation or more ultra-expensive lawsuits against the city.

Still, ABQ Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry says the crisis of confidence with APD is not widespread. As for Mayor Berry, he's authorized increased security measures at his office. That tells you all you need to know about his frame of mind. . .


The disintegration of the local economy may get glossed over here, but those looking from the outside in see all too clearly the debacle occurring in the state's largest city. The Brookings Institution pronounced Wednesday that the metro area is now in a double dip recession and likens us to an "island" amid a sea of national recovery:

The Albuquerque area is in the midst of a double-dip recession, the Brookings Institution reported. The area is dead last among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas in. . . recovery from the recession, Brookings said. “Albuquerque is. . . maybe one of the only, big metros to be in the midst of a double-dip recession,” said Brookings Research. . . The recession kind of passed Albuquerque by, almost, but as the national recovery gained, Albuquerque seems to be a kind of an island unto itself. . . Job growth remained negative for the third straight quarter in Albuquerque as employment levels declined by 0.2 percent,” the report said. “The metro area continues to slide back towards its post-recession low-point. 

The political impact of this grim news could be potent indeed. The Martinez/Berry economy is in the tank, but Dem Guv nominee Gary King has no organization up and running to make the case.

King did come with his second TV ad since the June primary Wednesday night. He responds to some of the massive attacks against him by the GOP Guv association. But the campaign did not have info readily available on how much King is spending on the Martinez hit. And that is key.)

The next foot to drop could be at the ABQ General Mills plant. The company has taken an earnings hit and is reviewing all of its North American operations for possible cutbacks. That sure takes the cheer out of Cheerios in record time. . . .

As for the drought, KOB-TV weatherman Eddie Garcia likens the forecast for eastern New Mexico to the movie "Groundhog Day": "It's just the same thing over and over and over again."

That same thing being the relentless triple digit temperatures and no rain. The impact will continue to be profoundly felt by the state's important cattle and dairy industry. Experts pinpoint eastern NM as one of the planet's regions most impacted by climate change. . .


An interesting interview with Greg Hull, the new mayor of Rio Rancho--except he wasn't asked perhaps the most relevant question for the city: What has he heard about Intel possibly shutting down and the remaining 2,800 employees there losing their jobs and sending the city into an economic tailspin?  Hull may have a better idea than most about Intel's future. His wife works at the computer chip giant.


Martinez & McCleskey
There was yet another opportunity for King and the Dems to draw blood on Guv Martinez this week but like so many others it apparently will pass unnoticed. That is not the case on the national scene where an outburst by her political operative Jay McCleskey is drawing attention in conservative circles.

McCleskey reportedly called a group of pro-life demonstrators protesting near his home and who don't think Martinez is pro-life enough "pieces of shit." That kind of comment is not going to endear the nationally ambitious Martinez to the conservative nominating wing of her party or any of the presidential candidates. McCleskey tried to airbrush it, but it's a tough sell.

"As a father, I objected to this group terrifying young children innocently playing in their neighborhood on a Saturday morning, including my own 8-year-old son, with grotesque posters and billboards of dead fetuses, and I think most parents would share my disgust," McCleskey said.

The Dems are pro-choice but McCleskey's scatological comments gave them a chance to tie them in with other controversial comments made by McCleskey and other Martinez aides about women as well as former House Speaker Ben Lujan.

One of the best paths to success is to be blessed by a weak opposition. That--so far--is the bottom line of Campaign '14.


It's the battle of the Senior Alligators over whether there will be any indictments over the Martinez administration's awarding of controversial 25 year racino lease to the Downs at ABQ. A Republican Gator insisted here this week that it is not going to happen. He said that the decision of former NM assistant US Attorney Greg Fouratt to take a cabinet post with Martinez shows that he doesn't believe anything was awry with the lease and he was in a position to know. But here comes pushback from a Senior Alligator of the Dem variety:

While I agree that it is unlikely that we will see any Downs indictments prior to the election, I would whole-heartedly disagree with the position that they won't come at all. There are some who believe that thanks to Greg Fouratt, who served as an advisor to Susana Martinez while running the civil and criminal litigation section of the US Atty's office, that those taking part in the Downs were able to use their connections inside the local US Atty's office to avoid prosecution. However, such actions do not always fly below the radar, and there is reason to believe that the DC office of the DOJ has taken more of an interest in the assessment of the case.

The Martinez administration has a proven track record of providing jobs to those who protect the inner circle. Just look at the hiring of several members of Maynes family, the wife and two sisters, of the state cop that went with Chuck Franco on his great Louisiana excursion. With that track record and knowing that the DPS position was offered only to Fouratt, one could easily speculate that a similar circumstance happened with the Downs. . . .

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

National Mag Pegs Battle For Control of NM House "A Tossup" Plus: In The Weeds With Gary King, Second Thoughts On Downtown Sculpture And Defining The New Mexico Problem 

As we all know the subplot of Campaign '14 is the battle by the Republicans to take control of the 70 member state House for the first time since folks wore "I Like Ike" buttons.

"Governing" is a respected national magazine that concerns itself with such matters and it says it is an even money bet that the R's wrest control of the chamber from the Dems:

House: Projected Tossup; Current 37-33 D: The state Senate isn't up this year, but control of the New Mexico House --which has been in the hands of Democrats since 1953 -- is up for grabs this year, with only a three-seat gain needed to flip the chamber. It doesn't hurt Republicans that it's a midterm election and that GOP Gov. Susana Martinez is favored to win a second term. Martinez is joined on the ticket by other Hispanic Republicans, making the ticket more ethnically diverse than in past years.

Dem House Speaker Ken Martinez will appear with ABQ Dem Reps Emily Kane and Liz Thomson at a fund-raiser for the Bernalillo County Dem party next month. Analysts say Martinez probably needs to hold at least one of those seats in order to keep control of the Speaker's gavel


For the Gary King campaign this week it's all gobbledygook about campaign managers and such. It's classic in the weeds stuff that keeps him stuck in neutral or worse.

Scott Tillman is now field director for King after serving as campaign manager for Lt. Guv candidate Deb Haaland, and King has hired a new campaign manager for both him and Haaland who he will soon announce. King's first manager was kicked out after only a day on the job for past controversial tweets he had made. (We messed up our own Tweet about Tillman, saying he was staying on as  campaign manager for Haaland.)

But do you get what we're saying? Who cares bout any of this?  What about the economy? Jobs? Child well-being and on on and on. This campaign is downright annoying, featuring endless unanswered attacks on King's record as attorney general and nothing else. A Senior Alligator picks it up from there:

#1--Who cares who is Gary King's campaign manager? #2--Who cares who is Debra Haaland's campaign manager? The answer: nobody. We are three weeks post-primary and Gary King is getting pummeled. Predictably, he's taking his own sweet time getting his act together and, thus, the race may be over. 

Talk about message management. All we're talking about when it comes to Gary King is how badly he is suffering and why he can't get his organization together. That's a recipe for failure. What's his message? What is he doing?? I pity the poor bastard who takes that job as manager for King. 

And the hits keep coming at Gary. The GOP guv association now comes with a Spanish language ad attacking him. Before this thing is over, they'll probably air ads attacking him in Mandarin....


A number of readers said the critic heard here of the proposal to place a $300,000 sculpture in downtown ABQ needs to know that the plan is part of the 35 year old program that sets aside for public art one percent of the general obligation bonds issued every two years.

We remember well its inception under Mayor Rusk in 1978. It was a highlight of his mayoral term. The most controversial piece of work approved under the program is the Chevy-on-a-stick that in 1991 was placed in the SE Heights. Aside from that, the program has been noncontroversial and successful in brightening the city landscape.

The critic also said--with tongue-in-cheek--that the sculpture downtown should be that of a moving van, symbolizing the people moving out of here. On that, he has a point.


We don't know if Alfred V. Puglisi is a blog reader, but he echoed what we've been blogging about for a number of years as he hit the proverbial nail on the head with this letter to the editor:

Businesses have been unable to expand. . . and their employees, for the most part, remain stuck at minimum wage, or a little above. Even those who rode the lucrative wave of the tech industry in New Mexico are scrambling now.

However, if you bring this up, our local media and politicians begin to extol the beauty of our mountains and deserts and the excitement of the balloon fiesta. The average New Mexican will stick his head in the sand when New Mexico’s economic deficiencies are mentioned. Some, as I found out, will get downright mad at you for thinking that we have problems. No one, however, will say, “What do we do to fix it?”

That is why this state is emptying itself of businesses and employees and of college grads who catch the first train out of here they can get a ticket on. The rest of you, who don’t have to make a living, can sit on your patios and gawk at the mountains and wait for the balloon fiesta to roll around.

Forbes magazine said a couple of years ago that New Mexico was in a death spiral. New Mexicans laughed and scoffed. But Forbes was right. All that is left to do with New Mexico’s economy, unless we wake up and get busy, is to throw dirt in over it and plant the headstone.

There is an election coming up. I will vote for the person who can show me how they are going to fix this and how they are going to get New Mexicans involved in fixing it. Either we dig in or we get buried – or we catch that train outta town.

Alfred, can we write your name in for Governor?. . . .

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Indictment Watch '14: Is It Cancelled? Plus: The NM Jobs Beat: Jobs At $47 An Hour And Another Look At "Innovate ABQ" Plus: The Case Of The Runaway Mayor  

A Senior Alligator of the Republican variety (yes, a rare species, but they are around) comes with an admonition for Democrats who are waiting for indictments to be handed down over the awarding of a controversial and lucrative 25 year racino lease for the Downs at ABQ.

Any indictments would obviously provide a big boost for the Guv campaign of Dem Gary King. Says the Sr. Gator:

"If there was trouble brewing on the racino deal do you think that former assistant US Attorney Greg Fouratt would have taken a job with the Martinez administration as director of the Department of Public Safety? He knows that deal better than anyone. He would have said thanks, but no thanks. There will be no indictments and the Dems praying for them are worshipping false gods....

Does this mean "Indictment Watch '14" is cancelled? If  so, what do we do with all the popcorn?. . .

By the way to refresh your memory, a Senior Alligator is a prized blog source, having contributed at least three major exclusive political stories, being at least 45 years of age and having 20 consecutive years in La Politica. A bonus qualification--but not mandatory--is having run for elective office and lost. You learn more losing. . . .


Is the Martinez and/or Berry administration thinking along these lines?

After decades of siphoning jobs from the United States, China is creating some. Chinese companies invested a record $14 billion in the United States last year, according to the Rhodium Group research firm. Collectively, they employ more than 70,000 Americans, up from virtually none a decade ago. Powerful forces — narrowing wage gaps, tumbling U.S. energy prices, the vagaries of currency markets — are pulling Chinese companies across the Pacific. Mayors and economic development officials have lined up to welcome Chinese investors. Southern states, touting low labor and land costs, have been especially aggressive.

And what about the state tourism department? Its come with a new ad that targets NYC which should help, but what about getting the new and on-the-move Chinese middle class interested in the Old West?

Santa Fe businessman Gerald Peters talked about that a few years ago, but we aren't seeing much motion. We have the money. The Martinez administration and the Legislature boosted annual tourism ad dollars to $8.6 million--a pretty healthy level. History shows those dollars translate into visitors and jobs. Speaking of which. . .

ABQ Dem State Senator  Michael Padilla will sponsor his second annual job fair  this Wednesday, June 25 at the Harrison Middle School Gymnasium located at 3912 Isleta Boulevard SW from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Padilla says last year the fair attracted over 2,000 people and this year his goal is to increase the number of attendees. NM is last or near last in job creation in the USA. .


Tired of seeing and hearing about those $9 and $10 an hour jobs? How about a nice NM slot for $47 an hour? They're out there:
Last month, in what has become an annual practice, Arthur Pepin, director of the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, pleaded with the state’s finance board for more money. He said that since he could not stop paying interpreters--they would not work if they were unpaid--he would have to start giving jurors an i.o.u. because the relevant fund was running out of cash. Mr. Pepin got the extra money, but the problem, he knows, will persist. Even though the fund’s budget has increased by roughly 76 percent since the 2004 fiscal year--to $7.4 million from $4.2 million--demand for interpreters continues to grow faster than the budget’s confines.


We ran into UNM President Bob Frank recently. He spoke enthusiastically of "Innovate ABQ," one of the few big jobs ideas on the table.

We and others have confessed our confusion about just what this plan aims to do. Frank says Innovate is meant to provide an enviornment for "ideas to collide with innovators and entrepreneurs." He also said Innovate will try new ways commercialize ideas from Los Alamos and Sandia Labs--a concept that has been pursued for years, but with disappointing results.

The UNM Regents recently authorized the purchase of the old First Baptist Church at Broadway and Central to house Innovate. The seven acre site is listed at $7.5 million.

Even though it's summer, we'll try to be innovative and do some homework on this one. . .


Mayor Berry is on the run--from nosy reporters who want to know the latest on APD. This tweet was posted by KRQE-TV's Katie Kim who caught a glimpse of the city's chief executive as he made his getaway. Maybe they'll catch up with him when he announces that the huge Tesla battery factor will locate here. Not.

And a memo to the media: You are also allowed to chase after Susana, too. Just in case you forgot. . . .

And reader reaction to Mayor Berry's announcement that he is soliciting ideas on how to invest $300,00 for public art in downtown ABQ:

Albuquerque has lost jobs for eight months in a row and Berry announces he wants to spend $300,000 decorating Downtown with new "iconic" art. With all the jobs and people leaving the city, maybe the artwork should be a bronze sculpture of a moving van.

Maybe we can have a downtown sculpture garden. Put that sculpture of a Chevy on a stick in the SE Heights down there along with a bronze U-Haul sculpture. Hey, this could be the start of something big!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

King Has Plenty Of Ammo, But No Gun; GOP Bashing Continues With No Answer, Plus: House Dem PACS Get Media Scrutiny, But Not R's. And: APD Crisis; Bunker Mentality Continues And More National Media Attention 

Gary King
Gary King is like a guy with a basement full of ammunition and no gun. The latest news on the NM economy and jobs--the chief concern among voters--continues to show both withering on the vine, but the '14 Dem guv nominee is the fella being beaten worse than a rented mule--not the incumbent Governor.

Martinez and her DC allies at the Republican Governors Association late last week released yet another wave of assault ads against King, hoping to permanently knock him to the canvass before he can get up and start taunting her over the failed economy.

If King and the Democrats had half the zeal that Martinez has shown for this campaign they would be shouting from the adobe rooftops that this is the worst economy in post-WWII history and pinning the blame on the austerity polices she and the conservative dominated legislature have adopted in response. It's a recession that's long gone in most parts of the country but alive and well here--and plunging large swaths of the state into a death spiral.

After five years of this inexorable economic decay, the end is still not in sight:

New Mexico lost 1,000 jobs in the 12 months that ended May 31, making it and New Jersey the only states that suffered year-over-year job losses. . . .The 0.1 percent negative growth rate marked the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year monthly job losses for the state.

New Mexico and New Jersey at the bottom of the jobs barrel? Aren't those two states governed by future GOP President Christie and Vice-President Martinez?

If you can't stand the sight of blood, turn away now. Here are the gory details:

Government employment registered a net loss of 2,500 jobs since May of last year, with most of these losses reported at the local and federal levels. The professional and business services industry lost 2,100 jobs. Manufacturing, in its eighteenth month of decline, lost 1,700 jobs. Construction employment fell by 1,500 jobs.

With jobs as spares as the water in Lake Heron, just where are the jobs? Well, the retail sector and its $9 an hour jobs seem to be the new "growth" engine. Just how many "dollar stores" can we have around here? Good question. How many do they have in Juarez?

You would think this downsizing--or disappearance--of the New Mexico dream would have an iron grip on this gubernatorial campaign. But when you have an opposition party whose boat has capsized and there's no sign of the captain, you get a fight to survive--not conquer.


There is a way for King to find a gun for all the ammo there is to fire at Susana.

His first and perhaps only choice at this stage is to pony up more of his and his family's personal wealth and start responding to the unanswered pummelling he is receiving.

King is not even in the conversation as a new ad airs accusing the attorney general of failing to stop Medicaid fraud. Never mind that the ad uses old numbers to back up its claims, if King is not going to counter that attack--as well as the boatload of negative mail, radio ad and social media skewering, experience shows it will be believed.

If King has decided he is not going to write another check in the early going because he will have plenty of time to make his case later on, he does so as a gambler, not a strategist, asserts longtime Dem analyst Harry Pavlides:

I think we have a potentially close race here because of the economy and other Martinez weakness's, but I feat that this beating he is reviving and not responding to could take him down to a polling level that will be difficult for him to bounce back from.

That's music more comforting to Martinez than a Mozart lullaby.

And if King is waiting for the millions to pour in so he can start his counterattack against Martinez, he'll end up like the guys in Waiting for Godot. Big money likes to bet on a fight--not a rout.

His name ID is strong and the Martinez blitz could still come up in short in the effort to define him negatively and irrevocably. But King seems to think he can start the game clock when he is good and ready. But the players are on the field and touchdowns are being scored against him. How many is the critical question. . . .


Speaker Martinez
The Sunday newspaper went wild over the various political action committees (PACS) that have sprouted up in support of Dem candidates as the battle for control of the state House is joined.

The report was accompanied by a chart that Rube Goldberg would envy. In  the end there didn't seem to be much point--except to make the point that campaign finance laws are convoluted, porous and nearly unenforceable. But what struck several of our readers was the newspaper's sudden interest. A senior Alligator sniped:

When is the paper going to connect the dots between Governor Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey and his political action committees? Susana and the ABQ Downs racino deal, known as "Gatorgate?" And perhaps a good hard look at the "suicide" of ABQ defense attorney Mary Han.

Fair questions. R's in the know indicate that as much as $2 million could be spent on the effort to take control of the House. Where's that money coming from and who is handling it? And how?

Actually, the news that House Speaker Ken Martinez is fully aware of the the landslide of cash that is about to hit his members is going to be greeted with open arms by Dems who have seen little if any fight against the Republican Governor or the Martinez media. . .


It is some Republicans going after Martinez and her political adviser Jay McCleskey with more force than the Dems. A group of anti-abortion protesters camped out near McCleskey's home in ABQ over the weekend, demanding that Martinez and McCleskey take a stronger pro-life stand.


Fortunately the Saturday protest match against the polices of APD went peacefully. Hundreds participated, including undercover officers from APD, including one who was filming the marchers as they chanted various slogans. Even though an undercover police presence at a protest march is standard these days, the filming was kinda creepy. . . .

But then this is a police department that is so deep in the bunker that it is not going to come out until a Federal grand jury begins handing down indictments in some of the over two dozen fatal police shootings that have taken place since 2010. Let's take you inside that bunker for a moment:

“My feeling at this point is that we let this one go…” APD spokeswoman Janet Blair wrote in an email. It was. . . May 19th, and Blair had fired off an email to Chief of Police Gorden Eden, APD Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman, city Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry, mayoral spokeswoman Erin Kinnard Thompson and Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy. “It was a Friday night story,” Blair wrote. “And I am hopeful it has no legs.” The. . . officials were discussing a KRQE-TV story on accused child pornography offender and suspected rapist Ruben Nieto. The topic at hand since the previous Friday afternoon was whether APD should offer the public an explanation of the Nieto case or, as Blair suggested, try to let the story fade away into the rest of the week’s news. After all, Ruben Nieto had been on APD’s radar for quite some time without any blips from the local media.

"Let the story fade away..." Kind of like what has happened to the reputation of APD as its flawed culture proves more stubborn than a radioactive mule. . . .

It is that culture and the fact that there has not been one officer charged in any of the 26 fatal police shootings since 2010 that stunned a CNN reporter. He presented a six minute report on the ABQ fatal police shootings.

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