Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oil Bear Turns From Cub Into Grizzly; How Long Will It Prowl? Plus: Hanna Is Finally Official, New Candidate For NM Dem Chair And A Question Du Jour 

The oil bear has trained from a cub into a Grizzly. We get this picture from a reader who was driving through SE NM and writes:

Joe, this is just across the state line from SE NM in the Permian Basin. Rigs are stacked up and crews have gone from 80 to 100 hour weeks to 25 to 40 hour weeks--if they haven't been laid off completely.

Energy taxes account for 20% of the state's general fund revenue. A downturn in the oil price for a year will sting mightily but not bite. The fear is if it stays down for over two years or more, then you are talking about deep cuts to education and social services. It could even raise a prospect as taboo as cannibalism--raising taxes to raise revenue.


She's gone from lady in waiting to "Madame Secretary." Senate Democrats finally relented Monday. After making her wait for over four years the Senate confirmed Hanna Skandera as the Secretary of the Public Education Department.

It was a 22-19 vote in favor, with five Dems joining the 17 R's to give Skandera the official title. The Dems could have put on a full-court press to stop her again but after four years of holding her hostage, compounded with the drubbing the Dems took at the November polls, it was time to move on.

Helping them do that in a big way was ABQ Dem state Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto who said he could not vote on the Skandera nomination in the Senate Rules Committee because he is an attorney handling a case for a charter school that presents a conflict of interest. That announcement--which raised eyebrows-- paved the way for Dem Senator Clemente Sanchez to join with committee R's and vote to advance the nomination to the Senate floor on a 5 to 4 vote.

Clemente Sanchez, however, was not one of those who voted for Skandera in the full Senate. Those Dems were: Phil Griego, Benny Shendo, Pete Campos, Mary Kay Papen and John Arthur Smith.


Some Skandera critics complained that Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez could have turned the heat up to stop the nomination, but this was a case of knowing when to fold them. The Senate by keeping Hanna on ice for four years had made its point. Besides, Sanchez faces major pressures ahead on right-to-work and third grade retention. He'll need all his firepower to keep his Dem troops in line. But, as we said, not all agreed. Direct from the middle of the action in the heart of the Roundhouse, the analysis you will get only here. The source is high and must remain anonymous:

We should have laid down a lot more sweat and blood on Skandera. We went out with a whimper and could have won that with effort. There was none and no effort to reliably count. Leadership didn't want to know the count and leadership probably didn't want to know the deals cut for the defections. Dems needed a win and have forgotten how. 

Skandera winning the controversial title will mean little. She will remain controversial and have the full backing of the Governor and the full enmity of most of the state's teachers. But she does get new business cards.


That lengthy report from the New Yorker on the troubles of APD drew responses to the magazine from readers, including this one from Lou Columbo, a senior analyst with the ABQ City Council in the 1990's:

At the height of the shootings during my tenure, Jim Baca, who had just been elected mayor, appointed a police chief, Jerry Galvin, from outside the department. Baca told Galvin to back reforms and reduce the violence and the killings. They changed the cadet training program. Nonlethal equipment and additional special negotiators were deployed to help defuse conflict situations. Direction from the top, in combination with practical operating procedures, drove the number of shootings down. The mayor is responsible for reviewing the point of engagement between the police and the suspect, and making nonlethal police responses a priority. Mayor Berry must now act to initiate change.

Columbo now lives in St. Louis where he is presumably enjoying his New Mexico retirement benefits.


Chaves County Democratic Party Chairman Fred Moran has joined the race for state party chairman. He made the announcement Monday night to state central committee members who will meet in April to replace outgoing chairman Sam Bregman.

Deb Haaland, the 2014 Dem lietuenat governor candidate, is the other announced contender in the chair race. We'll have more on the contest in the days ahead.


Reader Stanley Fitch has a question:

Joe, please imagine that on a trip out-of-state you briefly encounter a wealthy investor who says that he (or she) is searching for a location in the American Southwest to build a $1 billion manufacturing plant that would employ hundreds if not thousands of people. You are a person who deeply loves New Mexico and who desperately wants to improve situations back home. What appeal would you make during your 2-minute "elevator speech" as to why New Mexico is a better state for manufacturing investments than Texas, Arizona, Colorado, or Utah? Your spiel to the suitor must take into account the current political and regulatory environment and New Mexico's natural resource limitations.

Thanks, Stanley. The floor is now open for 2 minute spiels.

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 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign