Thursday, April 06, 2017

A "What If" Question Surfaces For State GOP As Pearce And Sanchez Weigh Guv Bids; On Dem Side It's Grisham Vs. Balderas Jockeying In Spotlight, And: Angst In The Lobo Lair 

How about this for a jaw dropper making the rounds? What if Rep. Steve Pearce and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez both decide to forgo bids for the '18 GOP gubernatorial nomination? Does that mean ABQ Mayor Richard Berry, not exactly the most popular fella within his own party, would become the default nominee? The Dems probably wouldn't mind that.

And what if Berry joined Sanchez and Pearce in passing on a Guv run? Who would the R's turn to then? Beats us. . .


And the chatter about John Sanchez perhaps challenging Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich next year instead of seeking the Guv slot continues to grow. And with reason. For the second time in recent days the state Democratic Party has included Sanchez in its criticism of Gov. Martinez. That's new.

In their latest attack the Dems score Martinez for taking a trip to Tennessee this week while the state budget and a bundle of other legislation is on her desk and she still has not told the state what she will do. Lt. Gov. Sanchez was Governor when Martinez was in Tennessee and the Dems said he could have acted on legislation in her absence. Fat chance of that. (Martinez never did make it to Tennessee to speak to a law enforcement conference because she was delayed by weather in Dallas).

But the attack on Sanchez underscores the point that the state Dem Party these days is largely under the wing of Sen. Heinrich and the attacks on Sanchez could signal that Heinrich's forces think Sanchez is looking their way.


The early positioning can be treated as a pastime of sorts when assessing Heinrich's race since he is heavily favored no matter who runs against him, but the early jockeying in the Dem Guv race is very critical. ABQ Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is working furiously to clear the field of major challengers--mostly any challenge by Attorney General Hector Balderas. Her latest effort is to roll out an endorsement from the New Mexico Professional Firefighters Association. The Association represents affiliates of the International Fire Fighters Association in the state. That endorsement comes on the heels of former Senator Jeff Bingaman giving Grisham his blessing and an earlier endorsement from Emily's List, an advocacy group for women candidates.

The next phase of the psychological warfare will be the state finance reports due this month. The Balderas camp will closely watch how much Grisham has raised and she will be watching his report just as closely.


The talk of the town has been yet another expensive buyout of a UNM Lobo basketball coach. Reader Michael Lamb shows how the controversy has put the spotlight as much on the athletic director as the now former coach:

Joe, regarding the $1 million buyout for UNM basketball coach Craig Neal. The media states: "This is the fourth big payout during University of New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs’ 11 years on the job. He has sent basketball coach Ritchie McKay packing, along with football coaches Rocky Long and Mike Locksley, who was a Krebs hire. They cost more than $2 million combined to buy out.”

As of 2014 UNM Athletics VP Paul Krebs had the highest salary of any vice president, at $319,262. what’s he making these days? Krebs has been UNM's AD for 11 years. Is it time someone bought him out--or to state is less elegantly--kick him out?"


In our first take Wednesday, we said the public schools bill introduced in the Territorial Legislature happened in 1892. The correct date is 1882. And we blogged that a flight into space courtesy of Virgin Galactic from the NM Spaceport is going for $200,000 but it's actually 200,000 British Pounds. That translates to about $250,000. We wouldn't want you making any mistakes when you're writing your check to Sir Richard. . . .

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

New Mexico 135 Years Ago: The Problem Then Is The Problem Now, Plus: Cattle Country News, More Spaceport Promises And Our License Plates Don't Peel 

Talk about the more things change the more they stay the same. . .Way back in 1882 when New Mexico was a territory and not yet a state, the condition of public education was a major worry--as it is today. And that brings us to Sister Blandina Segale, the missionary who became known for her work on the American Frontier, especially in our state.

Among her many works was assisting in passing a bill out of the 1882 Territorial Legislature that established the first public schools in New Mexico. 135 years later, supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would tap the state's $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund for very early childhood education, have dug up the language of that bill, and its relevance to today is a bit eerie:

Whereas, The advancement and property of this Territory are largely dependent upon the education of its people; and, Whereas, There are within its limits numerous orphans and other indigent children without home, influence or moral protection and destitute of the means of education and decent livelihood; and, Whereas, The same children, who, if left to ignorance, destitution and misery, would become elements of serious evil in our midst and entail great public expense in the prevention and suppression of crime, will, if protected and fostered. become a source of wealth, intelligence and moral support to the commonwealth, therefore, Be it Enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of New Mexico: There shall be created a Board of Charities and Industrial Schools in this territory. . .

This year the state House approved the constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if they wanted to use a portion of the Permanent Fund for very early childhood (about $140 million a year for 10 years), but it again stalled in the state Senate. In the 2015 Quality Counts rankings New Mexico ranked 49th in the nation In the quality of its public education.

As for Sister Blandina, she will soon become more widely known. Filming has begun of a television series telling the story of her life. The Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe has begun the process to canonize Segale.


Reader Mark Padilla writes:

Joe, My family has been in the cattle business since the late 1700s. The cattle industry plays a key role in the New Mexico economy and the recent discussions on trade pose a risk to our economy if poorly negotiated. I have attached a short column for your publishing consideration to raise awareness of the upcoming trade talks.


Here we go again:

Richard Branson has announced plans to launch people into space in 2018, with the first test flights beginning this year. The Virgin Galactic boss said he would be 'very disappointed' not to go into space himself in 2018 and hopes his space tourism programme will be up and running in the same year.

The NM Spaceport has been waiting for Virgin to launch for well over a decade, with past deadlines falling by the wayside. Maybe this time is different? Well, don't buy your $225,000 ticket quite yet.


Geez, what has to happen before Santa Fe gets serious and starts cutting down or consolidating these broken and expensive campuses:

State Auditor Tim Keller released a caustic audit of Northern New Mexico College, whose former president took off 40 days to attend conferences and then used 45 more days for vacations, even though only nine days were approved. These findings followed Keller’s recent conclusion that Northern is lax in accounting practices for handling cash and that $200,000 probably was stolen from the college by a former employee.


A reader from Texas complained here that our state's relatively new turquoise colored license plates are peeling. We haven't seen any signs of that and neither has reader Peter Ives:

Haven't seen any quality problems with my beautiful turquoise NM plate yet and I've put 79k miles on my car in lots of sun. And by the way, they got a design award back in 2010 from a plate collectors organization. The balloon license plates are the ones in deteriorating condition. They are really frying under the sun--many are quite faded and barely legible. The state should offer free replacements. The "patriot" plate is the ugliest with swirling US and NM flags and black alphanumerics over. Someone's cousin at MVD probably did that one--totally amateur.


When President Trump made one of his New Mexico stops as a candidate, he referred to ABQ's Kirtland Air Force Base as "Kirkland." Maybe it's catching on, or we missed the renaming, because we saw this in the newspaper the other day:

Wilson also told Heinrich she strongly supports moving directed energy and laser systems, some of which are being developed at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico, onto “the war fighter.”

Well, Costco would like that.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2017

"Big Three" Emerge From Crowded ABQ Mayoral Field, BernCo Credibility Questioned And The Late Lobbyist Bob Gold  

Tim Keller
The Alligators and insiders who predicted early on that Tim Keller would be the only ABQ mayoral candidate to qualify for public financing and were proven right over the weekend, now have another take on the fast approaching October 3 contest. They are now saying of the 14 candidates in the contest, a "Big Three" has emerged and chances are good that one of them will be your next mayor.

They are: Dem State Auditor Keller, ABQ GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis and former NM Dem Party Chairman and attorney Brian Colón.

Keller managed to collect 6,000, five dollar individual contributions to qualify for $380,000 in public financing for the race, far surpassing the needed 3,802 donations.  Only Lewis and Colón are expected to be able to match that $380,000 with private fund-raising. And that's the major reason why they are the Big Three.

Former BernCo Commissioner Deanna Archuleta and GOP BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson are in the next tier in the 14 person field. Questions remain about most of the other candidates being able to garner the necessary 3,000 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. They are due April 28. Many of them will certainly not file enough valid signatures and the Big Three will then loom even larger as we head into the month of May.


First the Bernalillo County Commission tells us they need (and approved) a $30 million gross receipts tax increase to plug a projected deficit. But the deficit turns out to be only $8 million. Then they tell us they got a heckuva deal on the Alvarado Square downtown property, paying $4.1 million, but only later do they tell us that the remodeling will cost another $33 million way up from the $15 million it first said in 2015.. Why this drip, drip from the county commission and county manager that only serves to damage their credibility?

That widely opposed three sixteenths of a cent gross receipts tax hike that takes the city rate to 7.5 percent comes amid an historic slowing in BernCo population growth. In April 2010, the Census estimated county population at 662,564. In July of 2016 Census said the population was 676,593. That's very little growth and that's why the county is having trouble managing the now oversized government it constructed in the go-go years. Sometimes the austerity hawks are needed to swoop down and reorder the agenda.  


Here's high impact news for ABQ and APD:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure these pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.

APD and the Berry administration entered a consent decree with Justice in 2014. Now it appears that the leash they're on could get looser. That's going to be cause for worry as APD has already been seen as stalling reforms.


Politicians in New Mexico often have very interesting backgrounds, like this one:

Former Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz talked about growing up picking onions in the summer near Hatch. He said when he was 9, he worked from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., picking the vegetables on his knees in 100-degree heat without breaks.

Democrat De La Cruz served two terms on the BernCo Commission, You might call him one "tough hombre."


Self-described "independent reader" John Ingram writes:

Joe: Apparently, "conservative reader" McClure (whom you quote way too often in our humble opinion) has conveniently forgotten that the overwhelming majority of New Mexican voters cast their ballots against this NYC oligarch, tweeter-in-chief who now occupies the people's White House. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham has demonstrated repeatedly the courage of her convictions. As such, she reflects the political will of New Mexico's voters. Michelle will make an excellent governor.

McClure wrote that Grisham's heavy attacks on Trump could hurt NM if she were elected Governor. One reason we quote him, John, is it often kick-starts the conversation.


This one didn't receive much attention but Bob Gold was a major player on the Santa Fe scene, perhaps most notably as the longtime lobbyist for the NM Retail Association. He was also a noted broadcaster and was a member of the NM Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Here's more on his death:

Robert L. "Bob Gold" Goldsborough Sr., age 86, of Santa Fe passed away peacefully surrounded by his family March 23. With a golden voice to last the ages, Bob had an early start in broadcasting that led to a career in politics and consulting. His personal efforts led to the passage of the first New Mexico Lottery Bill and he had a run for Governor which he cynically referred to as more of a "walk." He spent his retirement enjoying the backyard birds with his favorite bird of 65 years, Doris, and enjoying the best tastes of everything Santa Fe had to offer.

In 1990, when he made that short-lived run for the Democratic Guv nomination, his slogan, as we recall, was: "Good as Gold."

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