Thursday, September 30, 2021

Get Ready: Another Oil Boom For New Mexico And It Looks Like The Biggest Ever; Mammoth Surpluses Again Accumulating; Hawks Still Urge Caution In Battle With Doves 

Oil prices are skyrocketing again and with it immense surpluses in the New Mexico treasury: 

Goldman Sachs ramped up its forecast, calling for Brent crude to hit $90 a barrel by the end of the year. That's up from its previous call for $80. The Wall Street bank expects US crude to hit $87 a barrel, up from $77 previously. "While we have long held a bullish oil view," Goldman Sachs strategists wrote, "the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected." 

Despite historic surpluses because of a once again booming SE NM Permian basin and our new standing as the second biggest oil producer in the USA, state House Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Lundstrom continues to preach hawkishness as she doubts the longevity of the boom and urges spending restraint

More worrisome to doves is Lundstrom citing the state's various pension funds as a priority for the newfound wealth, putting the priorities of baby boomers and the yet unborn over the very real needs of today's generation. Needs such as this

Staff of the Legislative Finance Committee found child abuse deaths in New Mexico more than doubled in fiscal year 2020 from the previous year and the state has the second-highest rate of repeated child maltreatment in the nation. (That data was revised downward by the LFC on Friday).

Experts such as those at the Brookings Institution have repeatedly told state lawmakers and the Governor that the pension funds are not in a crisis. But the children of the state remain among the most disadvantaged in the nation. And they don't get pensions. 

As for the Governor, she's on a turtle's pace when it comes to discussing the incredible amounts of new money--literally in the billions:

--$1.4 billion forecast to come in over the state's current $7.4 billion General Fund budget.

--$1.5 billion forecast to go into the state's revenue stabilization and early childhood education funds in the next two years.

--$1.75 billion in federal Covid relief money.

--The state's Land Grant Permanent Fund, which benefits from the energy bull market as well as the stock market, now stands at a stunning $24 billion.

With the Permian one of the most attractive oil fields in the world cost-wise and expected to keep humming along even in down markets, surplus revenues could grow faster and larger than ever.

So where's the plan? Buy more Temperpedic mattresses to stuff it in? And what are the R's doing besides sitting on those mattresses? Not even talk of tax cuts? Why, it's heresy, gentle readers. 

The lack of urgency and vision in Santa Fe to put the money to work efficiently is part of the institutional character of the Roundhouse controlled as it is by the Legislative Finance Committee whose motto is if the sky isn't falling today, surely it will tomorrow. (Not to dismiss the excellent oversight the LFC and its staff provides the state. We just disagree on the solutions.) 

This kind of largesse cries out for robust leadership with far reaching vision from the executive and the legislature. Or will it be crying time again when those gruesome social conditions rankings come out?


That $3.5 trillion spending bill from the President is dividing progressives and moderate Dems over a number of issues, including this one:

The Biden administration is eliminating the stepped-up basis, an egregious loophole that allows the rich to pass down billions of dollars in assets through generations without ever having to pay a single penny on their growing value. It’s a $42 billion per year tax break that overwhelmingly goes to millionaires and billionaire heirs, and it has no place in a fair tax code. 

The White House says the provision would not impact farm and ranch owners in rural states such as NM but that isn't stopping those landowners from urging folks to contact the NM congressional delegation to keep them out of harm's way.

The plan to eliminate the stepped up basis has been rejected by a House committee but billions accumulated in this new Gilded Age are going to have to find their way to the taxman, if Biden's sweeping reform bill is to become reality.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Crime Crisis Headlines Latest Mayoral Debate; Keller Deflects Blame To Covid While His Opponents Leave Much On The Table, Plus: First TV Ads In ABQ And Santa Fe Mayor Races 

Eddy Aragon argued at the end of last night's mayoral debate before the ABQ Chamber of Commerce that he and Sheriff Manny Gonzales demonstrated why Mayor Tim Keller should be removed from office--that he was elected to solve the crime problem and failed. 

Keller may not have made much headway with crime but neither did Aragon or Gonzales succeed in pinning him down and fixing the blame squarely on his shoulders. 

Radio talker Aragon argued you could not blame Covid or the national trend for the city crime epidemic but time and again Keller did just that and his opponents failed to drill down on the specific mistakes the administration made that have contributed to the city's record number of homicides and the continuing high rate of auto and other property crime. 

What exactly is wrong with APD? Where has its leadership and that of the 11th floor specifically failed? How would you change that? Without those answers the mayor's well-practiced spin stood up to the test.

All three candidates agreed more cops are needed, that the turnstile system that frees violent criminals to the streets needs fixing as well as a resolution to the yearslong Department of Justice oversight of the department.

Gonzales (Journal)
Aragon said he would establish more specialized APD units for property and other crimes. Gonzales said he would solve the problem by having APD consolidate or contract with the Sheriff's department, a solution riddled with legal holes and political impracticality.

Gonzales tried but the best he could come up with was calling out Keller for "ultra liberal" policies that he says are the blame for the high crime here and other Blue cities. But what those exact policies are were mostly left unsaid. (He did cite that old bromide of ABQ as a Sanctuary City). He also said Keller was "immature" for blaming others for the crime crisis. 

Gonzales and Aragon will have several more chances to confront Keller but they have to take their blindfolds off and pin the tail directly on the donkey.


Aragon (Journal)
Aragon scored laughs when he noted Keller's real estate deals for the homeless shelter and a downtown soccer stadium calling him "Tim Trump" after the developer president. Republican Aragon is an avid Trump fan. He also called the $50 million stadium bond on the ballot "a sweetheart deal" between Keller and wealthy NM United soccer team co-owner Peter Trevisani. 

Sheriff Gonzales maintained that Amazon built its new warehouse distribution center in the county and not the city because of the city's high crime rate, but he offered no evidence and Amazon has not said anything like that publicly. 

Gonzales offered a head scratcher when he asserted the Gateway Center for the homeless planned for the old Lovelace Hospital near Kirtland Air Force Base would "compromise security at Sandia National Labs." Huh?

The debate was broadcast on conservative outlet KKOB radio. The host who followed the event was critical of the Mayor's "excuses" and announced he was giving him the nickname of "Covid Keller." That will now be in competition with the Keller campaign's favorite nickname of "Mayor Tim."

The next joint appearance for the mayoral candidates is scheduled for October 6 before the Westside Coalition of Neighborhood Associations.


That's the enthusiastic title of the first TV ad from Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber who has far outraised his rivals JoAnne Vigil Coppler and Alexis Martinez and is able to go on the broadcast airwaves while they remain dark. 

This first ad is a soft sell with Webber launching the spot, saying: "This past year has been tough for the people of Santa Fe." The remainder of the 30 second piece concentrates on his leadership during the Covid crisis, with various Santa Fe residents praising his economic recovery efforts. 

One elderly voter waves her finger at the camera and says firmly: "He made some tough decisions and things are looking up." (Maybe she should run).

The mayoral campaign in the City Different has been roiled by racial and economic divisions played out in the free media but you would never know that from Webber's opening volley. If his opponents are going to redirect the narrative back to those matters they are going to have to pay up. Webber is set to dominate the airwaves until the Nov. 2 election. 


All the consultants must agree that the handling of Covid is the safest way to go for their incumbent clients. Like Webber, in his first ad Mayor Keller sticks with the Covid theme, touting the success the city has had dealing with the virus, albeit with a bunch of help from the Feds. His spot is here

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Monday, September 27, 2021

Keller Jousts With Mayoral Foes; Lands First Public Blows On Gonzales; Starts Making Case For Second Term, Plus: NM Legal Pot Business Could Get Turned On Its Head In DC 

ABQ Mayor Tim Keller endured numerous jabs from his rivals at a Monday night mayoral forum but avoided any lasting damage and often responded with punches. (Video here.)

For BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales it was finally a chance to talk about something other than the ethics violations that have ensnared his campaign, but as in the first forum held last month he did not make a comprehensive case for removing Keller. 

Keller, who also had a slow start at that first engagement, came better prepared this time with a tighter and more cogent argument for himself and on why Gonzales should not lead the city. 

Republican Eddy Aragon again proved entertaining and probably strengthened his conservative base, but Gonzales, a conservative Dem and running second in the polling, was the clear target of Keller who launched his first TV spots this week.

When Gonzales claimed "politics" is the chief cause of the city's crime epidemic but did not quantify the charge, Keller struck, calling that argument a "disservice" to the community and "over the top," citing drugs, addiction and poverty as root causes.

When the Sheriff asserted that he has been successful fighting crime in the county, Keller cited a recent front page article that contradicted the claim. And he scoffed when Gonzales said he is not a politician, noting that the sheriff has twice been elected in partisan elections.

Gonzales took note of the city's historically high homicide rate, the fleeing from the city of many "middle class" residents and argued that Keller had enabled a new level "of lawlessness" in the city. But his solution that he will do for the city what he has done for the county was effectively undermined by Keller who also scored the sheriff for "sitting around with Trump" as a crime fighting strategy.

Speaking before the progressive NM Black Voters Collaborative and moderated by musician and community leader Cathryn McGill, Keller used his closing statement to unload publicly on Gonzales for the first time:

The sheriff has been over policing people of color and doing photo ops. He's been rounding up the homeless and calls it tough on crime. There is no women on his leadership team...The sheriff has beens sheriff for 8 years and has nothing to show. Battling crime, it's his problem, too. And the county has had worse crime than the city under his watch. Crime is a national problem. Our mayor has to speak truth.

Well, the part about Manny doing "photo ops" was Keller, the king of the photo op, doing his version of "going over the top."

Both Gonzales and Aragon pounced when Keller said that homelessness has increased from 2,000 to 5,000 since he became mayor. He blamed the Covid economy. They blamed his policies and opposed the Keller-backed homeless shelter that was approved by voters in a $14 million bond issue. Aragon called for regulated encampments where the homeless could be served and criminals in their midst could be removed. 

With just a little over two weeks to go before in-person early voting begins October 16, Keller also started to make the case for another four years at the helm, saying "he will build on the foundation" he has started which includes "reimagining policing" completing the Gateway Center for the homeless and bringing in "thousands of jobs" like those at Netflix and Universal. "We've got to move forward, not backward," he argued.

Keller has run campaigns for state senator, auditor and this is his second for mayor so him hitting his stride as the campaign nears a peak is to be expected. Gonzales and Aragon still have wind in their sails because of the crushing crime stats but the are going to have to mimic Keller and begin packaging their cases in a tighter bundle. 

The candidates face off again tonight at an ABQ Chamber of Commerce debate at 6 PM and will be streamed here


We noted several endorsements of former Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya in her bid for the Dem nomination for State Treasurer. The campaign of her opponent, Heather Benavidez, comes with some of their own:

State Senators Linda Lopez, Bill Tallman, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Carrie Hamblen and former Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez.


New Mexico's legal pot business doesn't take hold until next April but there's already discussion of how it could be turned upside down. From DC

 Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has thrown his weight behind cannabis decriminalization, producing a draft bill that would regulate a nationwide industry and force siloed state markets to interact with each other. Tearing down those walls would open up new business opportunities and unlock more traditional banking tools for an industry that has long been forced to primarily use cash. 

However, it could immediately expose every existing state market to a frenzy of national competitors and disrupt hard-fought local policies, a combination of fears that have started to muddle the industry's approach to federal legalization. . . “If the [Schumer] bill is passed, with that current language there that really doesn't give the states the authority they need to keep their markets intact, then I think we see a race to the bottom,” said Jeremy Unruh, vice president of regulatory and public affairs at PharmaCann, a multistate operator with facilities in New York, Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts. 

Unruh believes large-scale cultivators will flock to states with cheap energy, looser labor and environmental standards, lower taxes and fees, and good outdoor growing conditions. Then they will export their cheap, mass-produced cannabis to the rest of the country. “You will see a dramatic shift of the economic opportunities that states like Colorado and Washington have enjoyed ... to places like Mississippi and Georgia and New Mexico that have lower labor standards, lower environmental standards,” Unruh said.

If there is national legalization it sounds as if the pot business here could wind up like the state's chile industry, utilizing low paid workers and shipping much of the product out of state. 

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Insider Polling Reveals Standings In ABQ Mayoral Race, Gonzales Fined Again As He Tries To Get On Track, Plus: Soccer Stadium Debate; Who Is Peter Trevisani? 

Insider polling is starting to circulate in the ABQ mayoral race and unsurprisingly it shows Mayor Keller securely in first place. BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales is in second and radio talk show host Eddy Aragon places third. 

Second place is only important if Keller fails to garner 50 percent of the vote. In that event a run-off election will be called for December between the top two vote-getters.

The polling we've been looped into by reliable sources indicates if the election were held today Keller would cross that 50 percent threshold but the most intense phase of the campaign, including attacks, is only about to start. 

A run-off election for Keller is a threat as it could reset the race for many voters. Still, in a Democratic city and facing either conservative Gonzales or Aragon, Keller would remain the favorite. 

Forcing the Mayor into a run-off is now dependent on Gonzales and Aragon capturing the boiling rage that lies just below the surface in the state's largest city as it remains embroiled in a historic and long-lasting crime wave. 


Unfortunately for Gonzales, he continues to grapple with a nightmare narrative over campaign financing. Last week the City Ethics Board fined him
$2,000--one of the largest ever--and he was also publicly reprimanded for having his campaign commit forgery as it tried to qualify for public financing. 

For two long months his campaign has been consumed by legal battles over that financing and to no avail. Court rulings mean he will not get the over $600,000 that Keller has. Aragon is privately financing and Gonzales has been forced to go that route. 

The botched signature operation has been a momentum killer for the lawman who is campaigning on a platform of law and order in crime-ridden ABQ. 

Consultants on both sides of the aisle now say in his paid media Gonzales must answer voter concerns over the election fraud and also launch vigorous attacks on Keller's record on crime. They also agree that Gonzales was badly advised to continue fighting for the public money and should have quit after the initial court ruling. They say that would have given him more time to raise private cash as well as begin overdue attacks on Keller. 

The Gonzales campaign now says the sheriff has raised "nearly $200,000" in private donations. A report earlier this month had a pro-Manny PAC independent of the Gonzales campaign with $92,000 on hand. A PAC backing Keller reported $52,000 in cash. Entering the race late, Aragon reported raising $32,000 and had about $13,000 in cash.


Gonzales, desperately needing to focus on crime, comes with this endorsement from former APD Chief Mike Geier who was fired by Keller:

Albuquerque is dying! Crime is rampant, with homicides at an all time high. Traffic enforcement is non-existent and the homeless and panhandlers have taken over the city. APD is understaffed with morale at an all time low. These facts clearly indicate that public safety is not a priority for the current city administration. We need a strong Mayor who will not make empty promises he can’t keep. We need a leader who will actually support our police officers and not put them in jeopardy.

Hours later Keller came with a major labor union endorsement:

AFSCME Council 18 is excited to endorse Tim Keller for Mayor. We are thankful to have a mayor that shares our values and is a strong advocate for Albuquerque’s working families. His leadership is exactly what we need during these very difficult times.

Meanwhile, Aragon the only R in the race, continues to struggle with a divided GOP, writing on social media:

Democrats never support Republicans in #NM, but the Republican Party of Bernalillo County chair invited #MannyisaDemocrat to the BCGOP Sunday meeting? Why do we have to convince #Republicans to support Republican candidates?


The action will pick up on the campaign trail this week. Tonight at 6 PM the NM Black Voters Collaborative will host a mayoral forum at Highland High School which will be streamed here. Tomorrow night at 6 PM the ABQ Chamber of Commerce forum will be broadcast on KKOB radio and streamed here


Let's start dipping our toes into that controversial $50 million bond proposal to build a new soccer stadium in downtown ABQ that voters will decide November 2.

Insider polling from our sources indicates the stadium faces major opposition but is not dead. "Right now it looks like a coin flip," said one insider who has seen the numbers. 

The first paid broadcast media of the city election started over the weekend and is in support of the proposed downtown soccer stadium. We'll gather further info. 

The name Peter Trevisani, a co-owner of the NM United soccer team pushing the stadium which will cost upwards of $80 million, has been everywhere. Last week he made headlines when he announced the team will donate $10 million toward construction of the stadium, if the $50 million proposed bond issue is approved.

But who is Trevisani?

Political activist Jason Barker, who opposes the stadium, answers that question in this social media post:

He doesn't need a penny from taxpayers. Trevisani could put the cost of the stadium on his own Amex card if he wanted. Early in his career (1996-1999) he worked at Lehman Brothers in London. 

Trevisani founded Waybid, which created liquidity for business-to-business marketplaces, and served as the company's CEO. Waybid was backed by Venture Capital firms Draper Fisher Jurvetson and RRE Ventures.

In 2001 Trevisani became the first director of the institutional group at Thornburg Investment Management. Under his purview the arm grew from $300 million in managed assets in 2001 to $27 billion in 2012.

Trevisani founded Treventures in 2015 with a focus on immersive theatre. Some of his collaborations include AREA15, Third Rail Projects and the Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf. Treventures is also an investor in Natural Partners Fullscript, KraneShares, CodaWorks, Patrick's Soda, Venezia F.C., Meow Wolf and New Mexico United.

On April 22, 2020, Governor Lujan Grisham named Trevisani to an economic recovery council regarding the reopening of New Mexico businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter Trevisani doesn’t need to gamble with the people’s tax dollars for his soccer stadium, he has plenty of his own wealth to use on his soccer team. 

New Mexico United's preferred stadium site may be in trouble because part of it would require eminent domain to take from its private owner. . .This is a soccer team created as a ploy for a real estate investment to make a small elite group of people some serious money for a few lifetimes.

The stadium allows for them to employ gentrification for high price condo and retail development around the proposed stadium while pushing out the people who have lived in the area all their lives.  Please Vote NO on the Stadium ballot question Nov. 2nd.

We can't vouch for Barker's contention that Trevisani could put the cost of the stadium on his American Express card but he is obviously a man of means. So is his fellow NM United co-owner Ed Garcia of the Garcia automative family. They have purchased tens of millions of dollars in downtown real estate near where the stadium would most likely be built. 

Pro-stadium views are also welcome here as we cover both sides.


In a first draft of the Thursday blog we said Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes ran against Rep. Melanie Stansbury in 2020. She ran against then Rep. Deb Haaland. 

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