Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why Is Las Cruces Back In Recession? CAO Rob Perry And The "Underground Press" And Reader Says Go Solar At Santolina 

Let's head south for a little covered story about Las Cruces. It's back in recession, and we wanted to know why given all the hullabaloo over the nearby biz development at the Santa Teresa International Port of Entry. NMSU economics professor Chris Erickson has the answer:

Federal cutbacks in general are the reason for the Las Cruces recession. These cut backs are affecting White Sands Missile Range including Federal contractors who use White Sands Missile Range. Federally funded research and grants activity at NMSU is down. It also doesn't help that NMSU has seen a decline in student enrollments. If you are looking for a silver lining, it is that Las Cruces' recession is mild and that LC wage and salary employment remains above its pre-Great Recession peak. Meanwhile the state overall, while doing better, especially over the last 12-months, hasn't yet regained pre-Great Recession employment levels.

Here in ABQ we're also getting hit with those cutbacks in federal contractors, a large cause for the metro's no-growth economy. Yet the delusion persists in the upper echelons of the business community that somehow all these high paying federally backed jobs are going to be replaced by equally high paying jobs in the private sector. Well, where are they? So far, most of the new (and relatively few) jobs created in the past five years are at call centers and the like, hardly the six figure positions we are losing from the feds.


ABQ Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry tried to downplay critical comments about APD from former ABQ city councilor and 2013 mayoral hopeful Pete Dinelli. Perry said this of Dinelli's call in the ABQ Free Press for the dismissal of the top APD brass:

Making statements like this, you know, to an underground newspaper, a disgruntled, unelected political figure like this, is dangerous because they come up with ideas that can lead to very, very poor results.

As Wikpedia explains, the underground press "were the independently published and distributed underground papers associated with the counterculture of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States. . ."

But there is another definition of the underground press that in this instance may be more relevant to Perry's comments:

The term "underground press" is also used to refer to illegal publications produced against the wishes of oppressive regimes. In German occupied Europe, for example, or the samizdat and bibuĊ‚a in the Soviet Union and Poland respectively.

The Free Press, for which we write a column, is not yet an "illegal publication" but don't think they wouldn't try to do it--if they could.

In fact, APD Chief Gorden Eden ran into a media firestorm when in April he tried to bypass the TV stations and announce a use of force investigation via YouTube. That way he didn't have to take any questions. It didn't sell well with the media and Eden backed off even though he argued it was an effective way to deal with the public. However, how much of the public is open to question. A reader points out a mere 206 viewers follow APD and Eden on YouTube.


We continue to get a lot of reader email on the giant Santolina development (nearly 14,000 acres) proposed for ABQ's westside. Reader Mark Gaiser is among them:

My suggestion for Barclays (the banking firm that owns the land) is to turn the Santolina into a solar power park. The 19,000 acres would support 2,700 MW of solar power - which is just about the present generation capacity of PNM (but only during the day light hours). The site is very close to the transmission grid ties for the east-west lines and the north-south lines that serve the state. The annual income from that size of solar plant at $0.05 kWhr is $243 million and probably would employ around 200 full time workers. No water would be used except for the bi-monthly panel cleanings. No added traffic jams, no $500 million in infrastructure costs, a good increase in the tax base.... a much better deal for the neighborhood....

This week at the special session of the Legislature a number of legislators tried to get included in the tax break package an extension of the solar tax credit that is set to expire next year. Hey, maybe Santolina will get behind that after reading Mark's email. Just a thought. . .

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