Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Fight For A Seat At The Table: The Feds APD Monitor Vs. Two Councilors; Plus: Greener Economic Pastures Nearby Could Be Impacting Us 

Councilors Lewis & Garduno (Journal)
There was really no need for federal APD monitor James Ginger to stick his thumb in the eye of the city council this week but by doing so he may have inadvertently helped improve the outcome of the federally-mandated reforms of the troubled city police department. How so?

Well, two councilors who could not be further apart philosophically--Republican Dan Lewis and Democrat Rey Garduno--joined forces to defend the council's request that Ginger appear before them to answer questions. They even delayed payment to Ginger. That's apparently like taking steak away from a lion because Ginger was quick to publicly snap at the lawmakers. The problem is that Ginger has yet to convince observers that he brings the same passion to his job as as he does to receiving timely payments. The jury is still out on that one and the court appointed monitor might first want to concern himself with that perception before unloading on duly elected officials.

Berry & Ginger (Journal)
Having Lewis and Garduno (and on occasion other councilors) mixing it up over the reform process is restoring necessary tension between the mayor, council and the feds that has been sorely missing. The council, as we have noted over the years, has been like nine silent mice and has been sorely missed as the APD crisis was allowed to roll out of control. Finally, it appears the mute control is off.

Dr. Ginger and the Feds seem to think it is only the Mayor who has a seat at the table in the lengthy and very expensive process of getting APD back on the civilian leash. Maybe they are technically correct right but they are not only dealing with the law here. This is also politics. Elected representatives who are being asked to approve millions of dollars for reform can't simply be airbrushed out of the picture and treated as mere rubber stamps. They have a seat at the table--no matter what Dr. Ginger, US Attorney Martinez, Mayor Berry and federal Judge Brack may think.


One of the reasons--maybe a big one--as to why there has not been the outcry you might expect over New Mexico's questionable present and future economic prospects is that it is too easy to get out of here and start anew. And we mean easy.

CNBC just released its 2015 "America's Top States For Business" rankings and it shows how those nearby pastures are so much greener. Texas takes the number 2 slot, Utah is ranked 3rd and Colorado is 4th. All of them are at most only a few hours drive from our borders. Not that New Mexico didn't show potential. We ranked 24th overall (up from 34th last year) but came in very low on education (40th) and access to capital (42nd).

What we may be seeing in our depopulation and stagnant growth trend in our cities is a reversal of that old slogan "We'd rather fight than switch." In the case of getting on with their economic lives it appears relatively easy for New Mexicans to switch rather than fight.

By the way, Minnesota, described by CNBC as "a high-tax, high-wage, union-friendly state," took the #1 spot. Does that agenda in Santa Fe and in the elite business community of making us a right-to-work state and cutting corporate taxes seem even more off the mark?

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