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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Following The Money Leads To A Gator Strike On Steve, TV Stations Prep For Windfall, Pushback On Higher Ed Consolidation, And: Joe Carraro; Remember Him? He's Making Noise Again 

We hear you. Follow the money. . . which leads the Alligators to this statement by US Rep Steve Pearce who is also a freshly minted candidate for the 2018 GOP gubernatorial nomination:

Steve grew up south of Hobbs as one of six kids. His parents did everything possible to provide for him and his siblings while earning a $2.62 hourly wage.

And the Gator push back:

It looks like his father and mother struggled but in reality in1947 (when Pearce was born) that wage of $2.62 in 1947 would be equal to $29.65 in 2017. This is a good wage for the period that works out to about $4,700 a month based on a 40 hour work week. 

Hey, when you're worth millions as Steve is today, that probably looks like chump change. Nice try, Steve, but you're the victim of an Alligator strike, no doubt the first of many to come for both sides in the months ahead. Congrats, or something. . .

Martin Heinrich reports $3.1 million in cash on hand in his latest finance filing. New Mexico is not a targeted seat for the national R's. The waiting game on this one still centers on Lt. Gov. John Sanchez who has been flirting with a run against the freshman senator. . .

We can already declare one winner in the '18 campaign--the TV stations. They're finally going to get some contested races that will draw major league advertising. The open races for Governor and the congressional seats in ABQ and the south will bolster their bottom lines--although all three major network stations in the city are owned by out of state companies. The payday will be good but not as stupendous as it was in 2008 when NM was a swing presidential state, had an open race for US Senate as well as the ABQ and southern congressional seats.

FIRE FIGHTERS ENDORSE

One of our longtime blog sponsors checks in with this news:

Albuquerque Area Fire Fighters, Local 244 of the International Association endorsed Tim Keller for Mayor of Albuquerque. Diego Arencon, President of IAFF Local 244 said, "Tim understands that public safety is our priority, with his accountability and proven leadership he will ensure a safe future for the city of Albuquerque. He knows we must invest in fire and police staffing, operations and infrastructure to protect our community; taking direction from the voters to provide the necessary revenue to get the job done!”

This is the latest in a long line of union endorsements for Keller. The election is October 3.

POLICY WONK CORNER

Attention policy wonks. The 2017 Annual Social and Economic Indicators for New Mexico is out, courtesy of the economists at the state Dept. of Workforce Solutions. Here's just one sample from the swarm of data contained in the review:

New Mexico’s growth between 2010 and 2016 was solely driven by a natural increase in population from births. During the period, the natural increase of the population equaled 59,585 people (or 0.5 percent of the population), while net migration reached -37,780 people (an average annual rate of -0.3 percent of the population). This ranked the state twenty-first in the nation for rate of natural increase but forty-ninth in the nation for rate of net migration. Alaska and Illinois reported larger rates of net outmigration than New Mexico.

Good stuff for those inclined to delight in data.

POWELL AND DUNN

Democrat Ray Powell was defeated by Republican Aubrey Dunn for state land commissioner in 2014. Not the other way around as we had it in the first blog draft Wednesday. Thanks to the readers who pointed that out.

TO CONSOLIDATE OR NOT?

Reader Brian Borchers thoughtfully writes that the hue and cry for consolidation of New Mexico's over built higher education system heard here and elsewhere may not be the answer to the right sizing question:

Both Georgia and New Jersey have been attempting to save money by consolidating institutions. So far, they haven't achieved much in the way of savings. The reason for this is simply that the consolidations have only managed to save administrative salaries, which are a small part of the overall budget. Facilities costs are sunk costs (you can't easily sell off an unneeded campus and even with leased space you might be on the hook for years of rent) and the cost of instructors is basically proportional to the number of students. Consolidation of institutions didn't result in decreases in enrollment (which Georgia didn't want to happen anyway.) The Chronicle of Higher Ed recently reported on this, and the actual savings achieved by consolidation in George were about 1%. 

My take on the politics of higher education in New Mexico is that the legislature would rather keep cutting every institution's budget by the same amount then take steps to shut down the weaker institutions or even to force a consolidation of the smaller community colleges with UNM and NMSU. 

For New Mexico, Improving retention and ultimately graduation rates is probably a more important and approachable task than consolidating institutions and eliminating campuses. These rates are low at our community colleges and regional universities. They're also low at the three research institutions. This is an area where we should be doing better. Another issue is that NM ranks among the worst states in terms of community college students transferring to 4-year institutions and graduating with bachelors degrees. The ongoing effort to improve articulation between the 2- and 4-year institutions is an important effort that deserves more coverage. 

Now that's what you call food for thought. Have some of your own? Dish it up to our email and we'll serve it to the state.

JOE'S BACK

More than a few of you will recall former NM GOP state Senator Joe Carraro, the brash, forthright and entertaining lawmaker who represented ABQ's west side in the senate for some 20 years. He also made a run for the ABQ congressional seat, later became an independent and then retired from politics. But Carraro, now 72, and living again in his native New York City, hasn't retired from controversy. One of our Alligators visiting NYC recently spotted this item in the NY Post:

A retired NM state senator who came to the Big Apple to pursue a career as a playwright is suing his Manhattan building, saying his Hell's Kitchen apartment is too noisy.  Joseph Carraro's high-rise rental faces West 42nd Street and overlooks the Lincoln tunnel entrance.  

Carraro moved cross-country in June to write the next great Broadway play but the noise  outside his apartment has caused his blood pressure to soar, his suit alleges. He also cites construction noise inside the building, according to the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court. He's suing build manager George Laitsas and accuses the leasing company of a bait-and-switch by putting him in the 42nd Street side of the building instead of the 43rd Street side that had allegedly been agreed upon. Neither Carraro nor Laitsas returned calls

We wonder if New Mexico will get a mention in Joe's "great Broadway play?" Whatever it's about it will be hard to top the shenanigans that go on in real life in the Santa Fe Roundhouse and where Carraro earned his chapter in the never ending book of La Politica.

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