Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dubious Distinction: Duke City #19 On List Of Top 20 Cities People are Ditching; El Paso #1, Plus: The Spaceport Pause, Udall Blistered On Chemical Bill And Our Bottom Lines 

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They're outta here. You're probably aware that more folks are leaving Albuquerque than moving in but this map from Bloomberg puts the problem in stark perspective. ABQ ranks #19 among the top 20 cities in the USA that folks are ditching. The info is based on 2013 numbers but we're not seeing signs of any explosive group. Stagnant or slow-population growth could be a long-term trend.

The reason why more people are leaving here than moving in seems pretty obvious--jobs, jobs, jobs. And some may be leaving because of crime, crime, crime.

Remember, this is not only the ABQ city limits being ranked, but the four county metro area of Bernalillo, Valencia, Sandoval and Torrance counties.

We have seen no statements from Mayor Berry or Gov. Martinez about the fleeing folks. Has anyone asked them?

And how about El Paso ranking #1 among the top 20 cities losing residents? Again, the prime reason is jobs. We've done extensive reporting on the Las Cruces recession. But the "R" word rarely makes it into the mainstream media in Cruces or ABQ. Seems folks just don't want to deal much with the fact that folks are hoofing it out.


We ran into Dem Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz the other day and he strenuously disagreed with us about future population growth. He said he has watched the area grow for 40 years and growth will soon resume. He said that's why he supports the controversial Santolina Development that projects tens of thousands of new residents for the West Side area in the decades ahead.

Mesa del Sol was another land development projected to have tens of thousands of residents but the crash took care of that. And economist Dr. Kelly O'Donnell has come with an erudite analysis of why she believes Santolina's projections are off base:

I have reviewed the economic and fiscal impact analyses submitted with the Santolina Level A Master Plan, and find that although both analyses are methodologically sound, they each contain unrealistic assumptions about the population and economies of the middle Rio Grande Valley and consequently overestimate the project’s net benefits. When these assumptions are replaced by more accurate ones, estimated net benefits decrease by 56 percent, the jobs to housing ratio falls from 2:1 to .6:1.

Good stuff, Kelly. We're going to add her to our list of "no bullshit economists" which includes Dr. Chris Erickson at NMSU.

No crystal ball is perfect and maybe Commissioner Art will be shown to be right 25 years from now. If we're still around we'll buy him an adult beverage of his choice.


There's nearly a zero chance that Virgin Galactic will launch flights into space from the NM Spaceport next July but the head of the Spaceport put that out as a possibility when lawmakers pestered her over the operating expenses for the facility near T or C.

Predictions of Virgin taking tourists into space have been going on for 11 years. Industry insiders say last year's fatal test flight crash has made the future of manned spaceflight  in NM unknowable. The Legislature has been subsidizing the $225 million state-owned Spaceport to the tune of over $2 million a year, and if they want to keep the place going they're going to have to keep it up into the unknowable future.


Sens. Udall & Vitter
Sen. Tom Udall has a reputation as a leading environmentalist but he continues to get blistered by both the right and left for championing a chemical safety bill, even as he announces that over half the Senate is now supporting the measure. Here's the latest Udall thumping from the right from the American Spectator:

Here’s the ugly. The American Chemistry Council, Dow, Dupont, BASF, 3M, Honeywell and Koch Industries spent $62.9 million in 2014 lobbying members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and lobbying disclosure forms filed in Congress. While the disclosure forms don’t link the lobbyists to specific bills, a study by the Environmental Working Group found that most of the forms referred to TSCA. . . Senator Tom Udall, in Congress since 1999, has been largely ignored by the industry—until the 2014 election, when he turned up in the top 20 recipients of American Chemistry Council money, according to opensecrets.org. The Chemistry Council also ran television ads supporting Udall’s successful race against Republican challenger Allen Weh. It appears they’re getting a decent return on their investment.

Udall's office defends the measure:

This bill was written by Sen. Udall and Sen. Vitter in one of the most open and inclusive processes for a major piece of legislation to ensure all sides got a chance to be heard -- environmental advocates, industry, public health NGOs and others all were involved,” she said. ACC had no more input than environmental groups, and as a result of the input from many stakeholders, the bill has moved further toward what environmental groups and others said they wanted to see.


A proposed gross receipts tax hike of one-eighth of 1 percent to finance improvements to the ABQ BioPark will be on the October city election ballot thanks to a petition drive that gathered the required 14,000 signatures of registered voters. The city clerk's office says it has verified the signatures. The petition drive was managed by Steve Cabiedes of S C Consulting. He says it was hit or miss during the months-long drive but a push at the end put the BioPark foundation over the top. Cabiedes has been doing petitions for decades.

Cabiedes had better luck on this deal than when he last made the news. That was in 2012 when he managed the campaign of the primary foe of ABQ Dem SE Heights State Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton. It got so heated that Cabiedes was attacked in mailers by Dem interest groups for having worked in the past for GOP candidates. Cabiedes is a longtime contributor to our election night coverage for KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ.

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