Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Matt's Back: Political Limbo Ends For Fave Of Susana, Plus: Just How Big Was The Boyd Settlement? And: On The Econ Beat In Cruces And ABQ  

Matt Chandler
Matt Chandler's political limbo is over. Sent into exile earlier this year when the state senate refused to confirm his appointment by Gov. Martinez to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, the former Clovis area district attorney was rescued from oblivion by Martinez as she appointed him to a vacant district judgeship in Curry County.

Less than two weeks ago she named Chandler and another Guv machine stalwart--attorney and GOP National Committeeman Pat Rogers--to something called the Uniform Law Commission. But the judgeship comes with a real paycheck and resuscitates Chandler's political life after it was nearly killed off in the senate and when he resigned from a ten year run as district attorney for vague reasons.

Chandler was the GOP nominee for attorney general in 2010 but lost that bid so the judgeship has to be especially satisfying--and it can't be stopped by senators disgruntled with his association with attacks on them during their 2012 campaigns.

After suffering public humiliation Chandler now wears the black robes of respect and the Guv gets a bit of revenge on the Dem senators who subjected her to the humiliation of being the first Guv in years to have an appointee rejected. And don't worry about Matt losing that oil can he uses on the Machine. He'll need it when he seeks election to his appointed job.


In the context of things just how big was that $5 million settlement the city agreed to in the fatal police shooting of homeless camper James Boyd? Try huge. In New York City--the largest in the nation and vastly wealthier than ABQ--the notorious Eric Garner police case--was settled for a similar amount:

New York City has settled a claim with Eric Garner's family for $5.9 million in an effort by city officials to head off a full-blown lawsuit. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday announced the pre-litigation settlement in relation to the 43-year-old's chokehold death in NYPD custody last July. The move is a strategy by Stringer's office to save taxpayers the expense of a costly trial and provide closure to the victims' families, according to The New York Times. Earlier on Monday, several outlets reported that Garner's widow had previously rejected a $5 million settlement offer from the city. Garner's family was originally seeking $75 million in damages when they filed a notice of claim. . . 

The city of ABQ annual general fund budget is about $500 million. The NYC budget is over $78 billion. That's "billion." ABQ has been taken to the cleaners with that Boyd settlement but as in NYC the city could easily have been on the hook for $10 million or much more if the case went to trial. If you want to treat that as "good news" go right ahead.


The Governor is right that there has been growth on the state border but one thing is for sure--the city of Las Cruces remains in a recession and is experiencing negative job growth. And it could worsen following the announcement that the Fort Bliss army base that straddles both El Paso and Dona Ana County will downsize by 1,200 soldiers in the next two years. That will give the City of Crosses a kick that will be felt, says NMSU economist Chris Erickson:

Fort Bliss is an important driver of economic activity in Dona Ana County. Certainly the anticipated loss of 1,200 soldiers and their dependents over two years is not good news. I expect this to shave about 1/2 of 1% off employment growth in Las Cruces, and is one more factor making the city’s economic recovery dicey. On the other hand, the reduction in overseas deployments that is also expected means that more soldiers will be on base, which will partially mitigate the negative impact of the draw down.


We'll finish up this Wednesday with more from the econ beat and this view on the state's economic woes from a leading businessman:

Kamal Ali, the CEO for BBVA Compass in New Mexico: “The problem for New Mexico is migration. We have not grown in population. . . and we’re surrounded by states that are more progressive for businesses.” Ali said that he’s seen several large economic projects go elsewhere because neighboring and regional state have better economic policies. "We really do need a big shot in the arm” [to fully recover from the recession]. We need to come up with a formula of our own. Whatever we have is not working."

Ali has it half-right. It is not just that neighboring states have what he views as better business policies, they don't have a widespread social conditions crisis composed of a hodgepodge of runway crime, widespread poverty, low pay and a poorly educated work force. That stops people from coming here and attracting companies. Until the business community owns up to that brutal reality they will continue to swim against the tide. As Ali himself said: "Whatever we have is not working."

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