Thursday, August 10, 2017

Back On The Campaign Trail With The Land Office Face-Off, The Latest Endorsements And Even More Mayoral Forums  

The chase for the Dem nomination for NM Land Commissioner is more complicated now that Gallup area state Senator George Muñoz has joined the chase. Could he capture a large slice of the important Hispanic vote, leaving the two Anglo candidates--former Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Jr. and longtime environmentalist Garrett VeneKlasen coming up short? Muñoz, a conservative Dem, obviously thinks so.

The Munoz candidacy has to make freshman US Senator Martin Heinrich a bit nervous. He made the unusual play of endorsing political unknown VeneKlasen for the nomination, but if Muñoz takes the prize the land office would not be half as friendly to the enviro movement as Heinrich's pick would.

Powell was celebrating this news when the Muñoz candidacy threw some cold water his way:

Animal Protection Voters announced its endorsement of Ray Powell for Land Commissioner in 2018. . . Ray Powell’s record on serious animal protection and wildlife habitat conservation issues, both during and beyond his past tenure as Land Commissioner, reflects a deep commitment to caring for the health of New Mexico’s land, communities, and animals.

State Senators do not have to seek re-election until 2020 so this is a free ride for Munoz. The sole GOP contender is former Land Commissioner Pat Lyons. For the 18' general, the race is rated lean Dem.


Tis the endorsement season with the primary 10 months out and candidates scrambling to impress potential donors. In the crowded race (now 9 candidates) seeking the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat, we get this:

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez’ campaign for Congress announced the endorsement of national progressive leader, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “Antoinette’s career has been devoted to the pursuit of social and economic justice, and I know that she will stand with me and other Democrats in our fight for strong democracy and progressive change in America."

Raskin is Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

If endorsements in the ABQ mayor's race decided the contest Dem Tim Keller would win by a landslide, and he comes with another:

The Sierra Club announced has endorsed Tim Keller in the mayoral race. "Tim truly believes in the importance of environmental protection," said Richard Barish, the Political Chair of the Central New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club. "He understands that now, more than ever, it is important to do what we can to fight climate change at the local level.

Republican Ricardo Chaves, 81, isn't getting many endorsements but he says he has a number of ideas that set him apart from the 8 candidate pack:

Ricardo Chaves is the only candidate who will sell the city bus service to the private sector, saving $40 million a year. Ricardo Chaves is the only candidate who will sell the four city-owned golf courses, which are now losing $1 million a year.

In the race for Governor, veteran network newsman Sam Donaldson, 83, a native New Mexican who retired to ABQ four years ago, has endorsed Jeff Apodaca for the '18 Dem Guv nod. He does so in this video, saying:

Jeff Apodaca is the leader that I think should be our next governor. He has a plan as a successful businessman to try to solve all of our problems. And in addition to having a plan, he's the kind of leader who does not work to divide people, but to bring us together.


Longtime reader Robert Palacoiz writes:

Joe, is there not an enterprising lawyer who would be willing to do a class action suit against the governor & mayor of Albuquerque for my increase in auto insurance of $220.00. They have failed the people of New Mexico, they have failed our wonderful state, and now, we are literally paying the price with increased auto insurance rates do to crime.


We listed a number of mayoral forums on the blog this week and that brought more. This one will be held tonight at City Hall:

Police Oversight Mayoral Candidate Forum Hosted by Albuquerque PD in Crisis Thursday at 5 PM - 8 PM. City Hall 400 Marquette Ave NW.

And another:

Three Neighborhood Associations are co-sponsoring a Mayoral/District 7 City Council Candidate Q&A on Saturday, September 9, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Q and A will be moderated by the League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico.

And the group APD Forward has one slated:

We want you to be able to hear from the candidates running for mayor and learn how they will continue to restore trust between impacted communities and APD. September 6  from 6 pm - 7:30 pm at the African American Performing Arts Center, 310 San Pedro NE

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Our Continuing Crime Wave Coverage: Sheriff Asks "What's Going On In This Town?" We Answer, Plus: Many Mayoral Forums To Choose From 

And the beat goes on. . . as do the beatings, stabbings, killings, robberies and assorted other mayhem that has become commonplace in this mid-size city gripped by a crime crisis the likes it hasn't seen since they laid down the railroad tracks here in 1880.

We call those days of yore "The Wild West." What will they call this time a hundred years from now? Surely the historians of that far away time will wonder how ABQ slipped so far off the tracks and for so long, assuming the crime epidemic is solved by then. And an epidemic, dear reader, is what our beloved Albuquerque is dealing with.

In only the past few days a gun battle erupted in the middle of the city--in the used-to-be-safe NE Heights--at Carlisle and Montgomery. Across town in the SE Heights yet another slaying is added to the Metro Murder Meter made famous back in the day by legendary newsman Stuart Dyson. His voice would grow hoarse from overuse if he was in charge of the Meter today. As for the "other assorted mayhem," try this one on for size:

A drunk man went on a joyride to the tune of 142 mph down I-40. Police say Jeffrey Aguilar was in a black Mustang and fled officers twice before they eventually traced his plates to his address. When they arrived at his residence, police say they found him lying in bed drunk and arrested him.

Going 142 mph seems about the only way to attract law enforcement to the city's freeways these days. Driving them gives most citizens the feeling that they are about to step into a war zone.

And if you just happen to be driving through ABQ and stop at one of our friendly bistros for refreshment, there's a decent chance you'll get a personal taste of what this town has become:

While Staci Almager and her family (driving through ABQ) were eating at the Range Cafe last Friday, a man drove up right next to her SUV and starting looking into the vehicle. . . In an instant he started taking everything out of the family's SUV and loaded it into his car. Almager said he took everything: Their laptops, bank information, clothes.

Well, Stacy, it could be worse. You might have had to stay around here and listen to the excuses, finger-pointing and general whining by our leadership on why they can't do their jobs. Speaking of which . . .

There was another shooting involving a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy--the fifth this year--which has BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales pounding the table for more deputies--but still resisting the use of lapel cameras for them. And like his colleagues in the city--APD Chief Eden, Mayor Berry, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry, District Attorney Torrez, the nine member city council and the ABQ Chamber of Commerce, Gonzales is now overwhelmed by the enormity of the crisis this metro area faces:

What's going on in this town? What's going on in this community?" Gonzales said. "What is prompting people to act out with these behaviors that we haven't seen, I'm going to say, for as long as I've been in law enforcement?

Come on, Manny. You know why. And even though you're an affable guy and law enforcement pro, you are partly to blame.

In addition to drugs, poverty, repeat offenders and the understaffed APD, there is the dreadful impotence being displayed about all of it by the Sheriff and the aforementioned city leadership. Their statements to the general public reek of desperation but to the criminal class are music to the ears.

The question isn't "what's going on in this community?" The real question is how did our political and law enforcement leadership become so weak and willing to admit that weakness as this crime wave continues to drown them? And the question for all of us is "Where's our outrage"?


Readers are beginning to ask where they can see the ABQ mayoral candidates who are competing in the October 3 election. We previously told you about the two TV debates we're aware of--on KNME-TV August 15th from 6 to 8 p.m. and on KOB-TV the evening of September 15. Now we're getting word from the campaigns that KASA Fox 2 will have a mayoral debate from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. September 11 sponsored by the Greater ABQ Association of Realtors (GAAR). Activist Sivlio Dell'Angela has been compiling a list and adds these events:

--National Association Women Business Owners Mayoral Candidate Forum, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., Aug. 16, Tanoan Country Club.

--North Valley Coalition Mayoral Forum, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., August 23, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

--District 4/District 8 Forum, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., August 29, El Dorado High School.

--MiABQ Mayoral Forum, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., August 30, The Cell/Fusion Theatre Company, 701 1st NW.

--Community Safety and Policing Forum, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Sept. 6, African American Performing Arts Center on the state fairgrounds.

--NAACP Civil Rights and Diversity Conference Mayoral Forum, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Sept. 8, Embassy Suites Hotel near Downtown.

--East Gateway Coalition Mayoral Candidate Debate, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Sept. 21, The Canyon Club at Four Hill.s

That's a pretty healthy TV and forum schedule and we expect more will be on tap. There has been very little attention paid to this campaign but that could soon change--hopefully.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

On The Econ Beat: Not So Fast; The Claims That The Bear Is In Retreat Put To The Test; Oil Drilling Pop Does Not Make For A New Era 

Blogging New Mexico 
The administration in Santa Fe is hailing the end of the Great Bear Market that has embraced New Mexico for nearly a decade because of a shot in the arm of economic activity primarily due to a jump in energy royalties from the heavily drilled SE Permian basin. While the worst may or may not be behind us, it sure doesn't feel like the Bear has completely retreated to his lair.

While the Governor was gushing over an increase in the somewhat obscure economic indicator known as the gross domestic product (GDP), significant layoffs continued. The town of Estancia in Torrance County is preparing for 200 lost jobs at the privately run prison there which is being shut down. When that is fully absorbed the population in Estancia could easily return to what it was two decades ago. And a once high-flying (and heavily state-subsidized) tech firm in Rio Rancho just laid off 50 employees.

There are green shoots appearing in the economic desert. Construction workers are finding plenty to hammer, nail and pave. That's in large part because of the Facebook data center being built near Los Lunas and construction of the controversial ART transit project in ABQ. Notably, new home construction is nowhere near the rate of yore, forcing an imbalance in supply and demand and giving us price increases, but only modest ones compared to our neighbors. Homebuilders don't seem to have the confidence in the economic future that the Governor does.

There are no cranes in the sky of ABQ, no reports of the city's coffers flush with new cash generated by a rush of economic activity and no reports that interest from the educated classes in moving here is now higher than their interest in getting out.

The latest labor reports indicate the pop in employment is due primarily to the oil patch, low-paying jobs like those in tourism and home health care due to Medicaid expansion. Still, that is good news for those without college degrees and any jobs are welcomed.

(The June state jobs report had such a wild gyration that we're going to wait for confirmation of the higher employment numbers).


So, the GDP increase seems to signal nothing much new about the economy, but something rather old--that when the oil business does well, state revenues do well. But the macro picture for the New Mexican economy has not changed significantly. Some examples why:

The jobless rate relative to other states remains historically high.

Revenue collections for cities and towns remain mostly flat.

Crime remains rampant in ABQ,

High school graduation rates lag the region and nation.

Medicaid eligibility for low income households has soared to well over 40 percent of the state population.


Nothing goes up or down forever. And in a number of ways New Mexico has bottomed out. For example, most of those who want to move out, probably have. And local governments have raised the gross receipts tax to stabilize revenues. But the extreme damage done to the Land of Enchantment by the epic Bear Market is now evident--like smoke clearing from a battlefield.


The once NM monied middle class has shrunk. They wanted a Nordstrom's but they got payday loan stores. They wanted housing prices to roar again, but they whimper. They wanted local business to flourish as the Federal money spigot for the military/scientific complex flowed. Today it only trickles upward. They wanted to make a dent in crime and poverty, but the Bear (and a listless leadership) mauled that dream.

Given the cellar-dwelling polling numbers of those in charge in ABQ and Santa Fe, it seems a bipartisan conclusion that the current leadership has failed and failed mightily. New leadership will soon arrive and be charged with repairing the damage from an economic earthquake. From a state buried in rubble come cries of hope from the survivors.


You may not be bowled over by the 8 individuals running for mayor of ABQ in the October election, but you can take heart that we don't have this problem:

Half of the eight mayoral hopefuls on Detroit’s primary have been convicted of felony crimes involving drugs, assault or weapons, a Detroit News analysis shows. Three were charged with gun crimes and two for assault with intent to commit murder. Some of the offenses date back decades, the earliest to 1977. The most recent was in 2008. Political consultant Greg Bowens said there are candidates with past hardships in every election cycle. It’s not something unique to Detroit or the political arena in general, he said. “Black marks on your record show you have lived a little and have overcome some challenges,” said Bowens. . .

Being charged with "assault with intent to commit murder" shows you "have lived a little?" Well, now we know how Detroit got to where it is. Today's Detroit mayoral primary is the first since the city exited bankruptcy in 2014. The field of eight will be narrowed to two who will meeting in a fall run-off election.

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