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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Crime Crisis And Spiritual Crisis? Another Rash Of Violence Rocks ABQ, Plus: Pearce Pushback; His Campaign Defends Humble Beginnings Narrative, And: Plan To Shrink NM National Monuments Makes For Big Politics  

We call call it a crime crisis and it is, but now it also feels like a spiritual crisis is engulfing the state's largest city.

In recent days another taxi driver was brutally murdered. This by a suspect who appears to be so far gone on drugs that he thought the driver was working for the Illuminati and was stalking him. Then there was the dispiriting Friday night murder of a 14 year old outside of one of the city's favorite family hangouts--a Dion's Pizza at University and Gibson. You would have thought the mindless violence would have peaked last year with the ghastly dismemberment and murder of 10 year old Victoria Martens, yet another drug-inspired descent into the depths of hell. But our community seems incapable of halting this death spiral.

In a surreal moment that Timothy Leary would have been proud of, the ABQ Chamber of Commerce gave Mayor Berry an award for upholding public safety, only to have it by followed by the aforementioned slayings. And it got even more bizarre when the Mayor devoted his full attention (and PR machine) to an argument about distributing salt at senior citizens centers and bragged of how the salt is back for the "seasoned citizens. Talk about turning tragedy into farce.

This other-worldly contrast with reality seemed to go beyond the usual deflection and fecklessness that has characterized this administration and propelled it into a conscious callousness, a lapse in basic morality that leads to the observation that the city has become a spiritual black hole.

Those expecting that the still-hidden ABQ mayoral campaign might revive the city's spirits and renew its hopes that this will soon end are still waiting. While not insipid, the eight candidates have certainly been uninspiring. And just as troubling is the seeming lack of depth to the platforms of those who would replace Berry. Add a disappointing lack of vigor and passion and you get a recipe for another low turnout election.

The heart of the campaign for the October 3 election lies ahead and perhaps there will be an awakening, but ABQ is slowly losing heart that the next mayor will lead a turnaround. But then our problems are beyond politics. Faced with a plague of crime and drugs that is sucking the soul out of this place, what we may really need is not a mayor but a priest or rabbi.

PEARCE PUSHBACK 

Reader and longtime Steve Pearce critic Greg Lennes of Las Cruces went to work here last week to debunk the claim from the freshly minted governor candidate that he struggled in poverty during his very young years. That brought pushback from Rep. Pearce's campaign and more from Lennes as well. Here's the Pearce take:

Claim from Lennes:: “It looks like his father and mother struggled but in reality in 1947 (when Pearce was born) that wage of $2.62 in 1947 would be equal to $29.65 in 2017.” (Monahan blog, 7/20/17)

Fact: In 1947, the year Pearce was born, his parents made $200 for the entire year. Using the same calculation, that equates to $2,245 in income for the entire year in 2017 dollars.

Fact: In 1948, after that year’s cotton crop was ruined, Pearce’s parents made $50 for the entire year as sharecroppers – the equivalent of $516 in 2017 dollars.

Fact: A 2011 study places the average income for the middle fifth of American families in 1947 at $26,548 in 2011 dollars. Using rough estimations, that means the Pearce family made about 8 percent of what the average family made the year Steve Pearce was born. (Source: Economic Policy Institute)

Fact: In 1947, the bottom fifth of American families made an average income of $7,808 in 2011 dollars. Using the same rough calculations, the Pearce family made about a quarter of the yearly income of the average low-income family the year he was born. (Source: Economic Policy Institute)

Fact: After finding themselves unable to provide for their family while working as sharecroppers, the Pearces moved to New Mexico. Steve’s father began working as an oil field day laborer, making about 75 cents per hour when he could find work.

Fact: After several years of hard work and moving around Southeast New Mexico chasing jobs and opportunity, the Pearce family found itself in the late 1950's on a five-acre farm and his father secure in a job with a major oil company earning $2.62 an hour.

And the Lennes response:

Pearce was born in 1947. So he had no idea about his father and sharecropping. When He was 2 years old, his father was already working in the oilfields in 1949 and had the money to purchase a farm in 1954 when Pearce was 7. His father, Melvin Pearce, had a good job with the Humble Oil & Refining Company/Exxon as a technician where he worked from 1951 until his retirement in 1984, plus he owned a farm.

It seems Mr. Pearce is inspired by his so-called poverty. However, he has been fueled by corporate money, scorns compromise and leaves New Mexico "house divided." Now this "humble" millionaire wants to be Governor?

Fact: Congressman Pearce is stretching the truth again. "After the war, Melvin returned to the farm, but continued to play ball for the Oil Belt League. In 1951 he began working for Humble Oil $ Refining Company/Exxon as an Instrument Technician where he worked until his retirement in 1984." Here is the obituary of Congressman Pearce's father.

Well, those may not be the final words on the subject but for today here is a final word from Anne Batson, chair of the Lea County Republican Party:

Joe. . . I did a good deal of research on Steve a number of years ago before I asked him to run for the State House of Representatives. He was born on a hardscrabble farm. His mother had to put cardboard up in the windows to keep the sand out. They started out with very little. His dad was a sharecropper when Steve was born, but that could not support the family. He found a job here in New Mexico and his mother worked her way from the fields to the classroom and eventually became a school teacher. Yes, they made $2.62 an hour – it took years for them to get there, and they supported a family of seven on that wage. Look at the picture of Steve’s childhood home in his announcement video. Does that look like anything but humble beginnings? Steve Pearce is a New Mexico success story. He worked hard, raised a family and built a business. It is sad that people want to tear that down. We should be talking about how to create that opportunity for more people.

PEARCE CAMPAIGN MONEY

Pearce is suing the secretary of state so he can use $1 million in his congressional campaign fund for his gubernatorial run. The reports on that have not brought up a possibility that we blogged about a while back and now reiterate from one of our finance Alligators:

Congressman Pearce can either give it to the GOAL West superPAC, which he has close ties to. That might look shady but is totally legit. Or he can transfer all of it to the State Republican Party and they can spend that money on his race. Federal law allows for unlimited transfers from Federal candidates to State Party federal committees.

So if Pearce were to lose in court, the $1 million could go to one of the above mentioned entities which could spend the money on behalf of Pearce. The catch? The PAC or the party would not be permitted to coordinate its activity with Pearce's campaign, although that prohibition has been only loosely enforced.

MONUMENT THREAT

Hey, what is GOP state representative and southern congressional district candidate Yvette Herrell doing in DC with Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke? Do you think they're talking about Zinke's talk of downsizing two major national monuments in the state--the Organ Mountains Desert Peak National Monument near Las Cruces and the Rio Grande del Norte Monument near Taos? That's a pretty safe assumption.

Herrell and Pearce both support shrinking the monuments approved under Present Obama. But the state's two US Senators are lobbying furiously to keep them as they are. Herrell confirmed on Facebook that the monuments were a topic for her and the Secretary:

In Washington meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke about issues like Energy, Industry, Monuments and Parks that are specifically impacting New Mexico.

Zinke has said he will visit NM before he recommends any action to President Trump who will have the final say on the monument.s but no date has yet been set for that visit. Meantime, Herrell is gearing up for a tough '18 GOP primary in the battle to replace Pearce. She faces state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr. The Dems have four candidates duking it out for their party's nomination.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Martin Heinrich has $3.1 million cash on hand for his US Senate re-election campaign not the $2.5 million we blogged in an early first take. The FEC report we linked to was the latest one posted but covered only until the end of March not to the end of June.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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