Friday, January 30, 2015

APD Crisis In Yet Another National Mag As Rolling Stone Rolls Into Town, Smooth Sailing So Far For Santa Fe R's, SunZia Still Shining Hot And More On PNM And You 

The APD crisis is the subject of ceaseless fascination from the national media who are gravitating here like bees to honey. Only for us the honey is rancid.

Rolling Stone follows on the heels of that New Yorker piece (8,000 words) with  nearly 7,000 words on our troubles. The APD crisis may be costing the city millions in lawsuits and lost economic opportunities, but it sure sells magazines.

One of the angles in the RS piece deserves some attention. It's the notion that ABQ as a whole--despite all the fatal police shootings and the constant fallout--is still not ready for a big change:

The problem isn't policies, it's people, says state Sen. Ortiz y Pino. He thinks the only solution is to clear out generations of bad cops. "Let's get them out of here, let's really start out with a new mentality," he says. "We're gonna be plagued with these guys for years to come. They know this is all fake. They can hunker down until the Department of Justice goes away, and then it will be back to business as usual."

Of course, to truly change the culture of the APD would require a police chief committed to that project. Such a chief would have to be appointed by a mayor who made it a priority. And as the anger that flared after the release of the Boyd video has subsided, many doubt that Albuquerque voters care enough about the issue to demand a mayor who will make police reform a priority.

"We have the police that the people of Albuquerque want," says Ortiz y Pino. "You've got 25 percent who really are concerned about the violence and the direction we're going in. But if you put it to a vote, I shudder to think how it would be."

There may be only 25% concerned but isn't that in part because Senator Pino's Democratic Party has been AWOL when it comes to explaining the matter--and offering an alternative to Mayor Berry?

What if a well-known, charismatic Democrat began to rally the public--including the business community--to the idea that the police problem is linked to the economic problem? And did so relentlessly. Would that 25% grow quickly? Most surely it would.


From a political standpoint you have to hand it to the Guv's Machine, state House Speaker Don Tripp and Majority Leader Gentry. They are executing well. No major mistakes and soon they will be putting the heat on the Senate Dems. Controversial right to work legislation has already passed its first House Committee, along with the repeal of driver's licenses for undocumented workers. Both will soon be sent to the Dem controlled Senate. That will give the R's weeks and weeks to force action on these measures and build public support for them.


The R's are playing a new angle on SunZia. In case you missed it GOP state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn has joined forces with southern GOP Congressman Steve Pearce in an effort to at least delay the transmission line for renewable energy that just won final approval from the Feds:

Just days after the Secretary of the Interior held a major press conference to say the SunZia transmission project can go forward, Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn issued a 60-day right-of-entry suspension on the endeavor. The commissioner said he wanted to review the line's route, some of which has been planned for six years.

Dunn also pointed out that he was not invited to that weekend news conference with the Secretary where final Fed approval of SunZia was announced. It's a valid point as the transmission line runs across state trust land Dunn is responsible for. He must give his go ahead.

Dunn's move is a somewhat unexpected curve ball, raising the question of why Sen. Martin Heinrich, the chief backer of the line, did not get him on board. Dunn, our expert sources say, could conceivably delay SunZia for his term in office. Not that he is necessarily gung-ho to do that. Dunn is a rancher and many ranchers would benefit financially from SunZia for the use of their lands for the project (as would the state trust fund).

Heinrich is in the middle of this story as the chief backer of the line that will run near a portion of White Sands Missile Range. Ironically, while the ABQ newspaper is damning him--the  Las Cruces Sun-News in the south and home to Pearce--is praising the project which will mean a lot of temporary and permanent jobs:

Pearce has also apparently developed a newfound respect for cultural artifacts that has never been evident before during his decade in office. He complained the federal government was lax in ensuring the transmission line will not disrupt ancient Pueblo sites. Would he have those same concerns if it were oil rigs instead of a renewable energy line being planned for the area?

The SunZia tussle is a prime example of the consequence of the disarray of state Democrats. They lost the land commissioner race last November by less than a thousand votes. Now that's coming home to roost here and in Washington. Maybe Dunn's move will prompt the Dems in the state's congressional delegation to think harder about Republican power in statewide offices and what, if anything, they're going to do about it.


Here's PNM's Pahl Shipley responding to the comments on Thursday's blog from the executive director of New Energy Economy:

I’d like to set the record straight regarding the hearing on  PNM’s plan for the San Juan Generating Station and about the rate request filed with the NMPRC.

The record in the San Juan case is clear and refutes the claims of errors causing $1 billion in increased costs to customers. It’s a sexy number, but it’s not true. There was one error in an assumption estimate used to compare scenarios, which we corrected well before the hearing started. . . 

 . . . The facts show that PNM’s plan is still the most cost effective for customers. It. . .  balances keeping the lights on, cost, environmental protection, and the risks associated with relying too much on any one generation source. And here’s the truth--PNM’s plan proposes a significant net reduction in coal--about a 50 percent cut for the plant and 30 percent for PNM. . .

As for the PNM request for a price increase. . . the proposed overall increase across all customer groups is approximately 7 percent, while the proposed average residential bill impact is about 12 percent. The proposal is designed to more fairly allocate costs to customer based on how they actually use electricity. Even if the proposal is approved, PNM’s rates would still be competitive both regionally and nationally. . . 

. . .92 percent of our request is based on the $545 million the company committed to investing in the electric system since our last formal increase. It pays for the critical infrastructure necessary to keep the lights on and fulfill our primary mission--serving our customers.


Here's the full video of the Thursday news conference by Attorney General Balderas where he released the full audit--with some light redactions--of the Martinez administration's audit of the state's behavioral health providers. The full audit is here. And a news account is here.

From Facebook:

For those who knew Terrie Q. Sayre, there will be a Memorial for her this coming Saturday, January 31st, at 5pm at the Anderson Abruzzo Balloon Museum at 5pm. This memorial is open to the public, so come early if you want to sit.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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