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Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: John Sanchez's Gall Bladder Speaks, New Mexico's Most Sexist Writer Named And Angelina Jolie's New Tattoo 

Lt. Governor John Sanchez and possible GOP US Senate candidate John Sanchez, 48, had surgery this week to remove his gall bladder. Sanchez was unavailable for comment, but on the way out his departing gall bladder said, "Heather Wilson is a relic of the past."

Now that's what you call a lot of gall.

While the bleacher seats wait and see if Sanchez gets on the field and starts tackling GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson, Las Cruces day care owner Greg Sowards is already in the race, is providing some pre-game entertainment:

Voters rejected Heather Wilson in a primary four years ago for the same reason they will reject her this time. We will wage a creative campaign that will have the strength and message necessary to win, as the candidate that stands with integrity, while defending firm Constitutional principles.

Sowards has loaned himself $150,000 and has hired some DC consultants who he says are like underdog campaigns such as his own. Sowards is portraying himself as the true conservative in the GOP primary, something we could see Sanchez do if he throws his gall bladder into the ring....Hold on there, we mean throw his hat into the ring....

SPIN THAT THING

The state Dems are out with their latest spin, taking a bite not only out of Governor Susana, but also tearing into ABQ GOP Mayor Richard Berry:

...We've seen what Republican leadership is all about. Attacks on the film industry, letting lobbyists free reign to weaken clean-water protections, slashing public schools...

Now, we have Mayor Berry talking about innovative projects in Albuquerque. That's funny. Where was he when Gov. Martinez was slashing film incentives which have created thousands of jobs in Albuquerque?

And no surprise that the enviros aren't happy with Susana.

The R's may have two of the top political positions but it is still a Dem majority state with plenty of well-armed interest groups to keep up the opposition buzz.

THAT'S THE TICKET

Reader Jennifer Trujillo writes:

I'm curious why you haven't made any mention of the concert ticket scandal involving Live Nation and the Bernalillo Commissioners, County Attorney, and former County Manager. I would have thought this scandal would have reached your blog.

We didn't think it was that earth-shaking, but here it is.

We also did not blog this week about the latest fatal police shooting in ABQ, but now that you mention it, we noticed that it was APD Chief Ray Schultz who was front and center in handling it, not controversial Public Safety Director Darren White. Mayor Berry could return command and control to APD to the chief as it was for the 35 years before he took office. Police have already given White a vote of no-confidence and if the public is going to have full confidence in its police they need to see cooperation, not confrontation.

FOLLOW THE DISTRICTS


For those of you whose eyes don't glaze over at the thought of legislative and congressional redistricting, there's a web site up from The Rose Institute of State and Local Government, a nonprofit institute at Claremont McKenna College that monitors the action in all 50 states. We linked to the NM page. Enjoy.

THE WINNER IS...


Congrats to Manuel Golden of Mesquite, NM for this pastel which won southern US Rep. Steve Pearce's Congressional Art Competition:

Manuel L. Golden of Mesquite won the first prize for the 2nd Congressional District. His untitled piece depicts a traditionally-garbed Native American. Golden is a student of art teacher Susana Arredondo at Gadsden High School in Anthony, NM. He'll receive plane tickets and hotel accommodations for two to attend the unveiling ceremony in Washington, D.C. His artwork will be displayed on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol building.

Manuel was going to do a pastel of Pearce chasing an illegal alien across the border with a big broom, but had second thoughts.

THE BOTTOM LINES

How about some Ned Cantwell to top off the week? The humor columnist is enjoying his place on the Seven Sleaziest, Sexist Moments of 201o. He was given the honor by the Women's Media Center. Cantwell earned his sexist stripes for comments he made on the Guv race between Susana and Dem Diane Denish:

“So far these ladies have displayed such a lack of class, we’re beginning to think, ‘strip down and get 'er on, gals."

Just to clarify this and so there is absolutely no misunderstanding, Ned was talking about the two candidates mud wrestling with another. Weren't you, Ned? We don't want you making another list because of us.

BONUS BOTTOM LINES

Just so you don't miss any of the really important stuff:

Angelina Jolie has confirmed that the coordinates tattooed on her arm are the latitude and longitude for Brad Pitt's birthplace.

Oh, yeah. Now you're blogging....

This is it--the home of New Mexico politics.

I'm Joe Monahan reporting to you from Albuquerque.

E-mail your news and comments.

A Friday Update 

Blogger--which is owned by Google and hosts this blog along with millions of others--was hit with an outage Thursday afternoon that extended into mid-morning Friday. It wiped out all postings for Thursday and the one we had set to go for you on Friday. Sorry about that.

We'll be back Monday with more from the wonderful world of New Mexico politics--provided all the Blogger bugs have been exterminated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Are New Mexicans Hypocrites On Federal Spending? No, They Aren't, Plus: Obama's El Paso Visit, And: Sen. Ingle's Break With Guv; What's It Mean? 

What responsibility does our little state of two million souls have in helping to resolve the nation's enormous budget deficit of $14 trillion? Should we pitch in and acquiesce to large cuts to our military bases, national labs and other government funding? Shouldn't we be part of a plan that calls on everyone to sacrifice? The short answer is "no."

New Mexico receives much from the federal government because it has given so much. This was the place the nation designated to set off the first atomic bomb. How's that for giving back?

The USA takes advantage of our clear blue skies and wide open spaces for location of major defense bases; we've provided a home for the often controversial development and research into nuclear weaponry at Los Alamos and Sandia; we are the site for WIPP--a repository for low level nuclear waste--and we are home to a large swath of the Navajo reservation, established by the federal government, but whose people also look to the state for support.

One could argue that we get more than we give. But don't buy it. The massive federal presence here has made us somewhat of a federal colony. It has been extremely difficult to encourage a diverse private economy when so many of our businesses are created to serve Uncle Sam's needs. That, too, is sacrifice.

In the years ahead, the state's congressional delegation may be accused of hypocrisy as they pitch in to reduce the mammoth deficit, but protect their state from ugly cuts (at least we hope they d0). But they and all New Mexicans have nothing to be ashamed of. We began earning our way once the dawn skies over Trinity Site glowed from a light never before seen.

OBAMA IN El PASO

The President made a brief stop in El Paso Tuesday. It was a badly needed one. Recent polling shows Hispanics, so important to Obama's political success, have become disgruntled with him, the economy being an obvious reason (We have an item below about high Hispanic unemployment).

Immigration reform is also a major concern and Obama tackled that one during his speech.

Obama predicted Republicans would seek to block his new immigration reform drive, quipping they would demand alligators in a moat around America's borders. Opening a new push on offering a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, seen by many as a bid to appease crucial Hispanic voters, Obama decried the way toxic Washington politics had roadblocked reform.

(Like that Alligator quote. Mr. Prez).

Southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce came with this reaction to Obama's stop:

The President continues to talk about border issues from El Paso and Washington, while turning a blind eye to the lack of security only miles away. The violence and trafficking of drugs, weapons, and human beings continues to plague my constituents. We cannot possibly address immigration without first facing our border security problems. It is unfortunate that the President missed an opportunity to hear from my constituents about the need for serious measures.

We don't know if the President has turned a blind eye toward the drug related carnage just over the border, but Pearce is right that the Feds haven't done enough about it. But from this perch, the fight can't only be about securing the New Mexico border. The administration needs to be more involved in ending the drug-related carnage inside the borders of Mexico. That isn't easy, but the ongoing slaughter in our southern neighbor demands outside of the box thinking.


As for Pearce's charge on border security, the President's spokesman says:


We have substantially increased the number of border patrol agents twice -- more than 20,000 now--twice the number that there were in 2004. We have tripled the number of intelligence agents--analysts who are working on border patrol.

Obama himself added:


El Paso and other cities and towns along this border are consistently among the safest in the nation.

And Dem Senator Tom Udall counters Pearce:

"In 2007, I supported the efforts of former President George W. Bush to overhaul the immigration system, and I applaud President Obama for again bringing this issue to the forefront.

“Meaningful reform is about more than just building a fence or arresting undocumented immigrants....It's making sure that...law enforcement have the necessary resources to secure the border and keep our communities safe. It’s taking steps to bring the millions of people already living here illegally out of the shadows, included deporting undocumented criminals while providing a path to earned legalization that includes learning English and paying back taxes for individuals who have become productive members of society. It also includes penalizing employers who illegally hire immigrants.

CRACK IN THE DAM
Sen. Ingle
Yes, we certainly did notice that State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle has parted company with Governor Martinez over one of her line item vetoes, signaling a crack in GOP Senate solidarity. But his fellow R's can hardly blame him. Susana actually lowered the amount of an appropriation approved by the legislature by crossing out a number. That meant oversight funds for regional housing authorities went from $150,000 to $50,000. Talk about an easy way for a Governor to cut a budget.

But it's likely that the new Guv will be challenged in court over that veto--and lose. Said Ingle
:

"You're setting a very dangerous precedent when the amounts are changed."

Well, you are also basically saying the Legislature doesn't matter and Senators--no matter what party they belong to--aren't going to go along with that,

Blog reader Joe Barela offered his theory on the audacious veto:

I suspect that just like the firings and some of her other dealings that she has no concept of what the legal limitations of her powers are.

Well, Joe, we think she is very mindful of the limitations of her power and she's trying to expand them. And don't think that's "bold change." Governors Richardson and Johnson were notorious for trying to cut corners with the legislature.

Martinez isn't gun-shy either which is a good quality to have when faced with a crisis where you have to call out the National Guard or deal with fires and floods. We don't need a meek executive and we don't have one.


What you are seeing with Dem Senate leader Jennings--whose relationship with the Governor we blogged bout yesterday and now Senator Ingle--is institutional push back. Ingle also wants a seat at the table and apparently there was no chair for him on the Fourth Floor so he took his concerns public. In this instance, he is a Senator first and a Republican second. Ingle has been in the Senate game for over a quarter century and Jennings even longer. Your patience level tends to expand with that length of service. When he takes on a GOP Governor it is sit up and take notice time.

Martinez may have 90 percent support in the polls from the Republican base, but long term players like Ingle are not going to be intimidated and will assert the power of their co-equal branch of government when the need arises. Nothing new about that. Well, at least not for those of us who do not have an itchy finger on a veto pen.


KIRTLAND LOSSES
Domenici & Wilson
One of the Senior Alligators informed us Tuesday that:

The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) used to employ 500-600 at Kirtland. I think it now employees around 180.

To which a longtime staffer for former GOP US Senator Pete Domenici reacted:

The AFOTEC loss was the direct result of (former ABQ GOP Congresswoman) Heather Wilson and Pete leaving office. Heather protected and supported AFOTEC her entire Congressional career.

Wilson's willingness to fight for the state's federal dollars--and her success doing it--is one of the strongest arguments she has that she should become the state's next US Senator. If she doesn't offset it by embracing the radical plans put forth for Social Security and Medicare by House Republicans, she could be a formidable GOP nominee.

As for Domenici, how much federal money have we lost as a result of his departure from the US Senate? He ended his political career in 2008, just as the economy went south. It has hurt.

JOBS AND HISPANICS

This grabbed our attention from NM Voices for Children:

The unemployment rate for Hispanics is significantly higher than it is for non-Hispanic whites, according to a new issue brief from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report, Distressed New Mexico: An ongoing and uneven employment crisis by Douglas Hall and Algernon Austin, finds that in 2010, the Hispanic unemployment rate was 12.5 percent, while non-Hispanic white unemployment rate was 8 percent.

Here in New Mexico, the disparity is slightly smaller—with 9 percent of Hispanics unemployed versus just under 7 percent of non-Hispanic whites, but labor experts say there is still cause for concern.

“Despite the slightly better rate in New Mexico, the disparity is magnified here because Hispanics make up a larger share of the population than elsewhere in the nation,” said Gerry Bradley, Research Director for New Mexico Voices for Children, which co-released the report.

SOUTHERN VACATION

From the AP:

Tours of Spaceport America in southern New Mexico will be offered to the public starting this week. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority announced that it selected Albuquerque-based company Follow The Sun Inc. to conduct the preview tours.


The spaceport is expected to be fully operational later this year. The tours are aimed at giving guests an up close look at the spaceflight facilities before operations begin. The three-hour tour will cost adults $59 and $29 for children under 12.


Hey, Susana finally has a chance to get over to the Spaceport. Now we only need Jon Barela to put up the $59 bucks....


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Senate Leader Jennings Back In Dem Mainstream; Sparring With Susana Over Medicaid, Plus: More On All Our Govt Workers 

Sen. Jennings
It has been interesting to watch the relationship between Dem State Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings and Republican Governor Martinez. A coalition of R's and conservative D's keep Jennings in the leadership slot. But the SE NM lawmaker, after often opposing Dem Governor Big Bill, now seems to be swimming more in the Dem mainstream. He could use his considerable influence to help Martinez and not get much grief for it from his rural constituency. But he isn't.

During the regular session of the Legislature Jennings lent essential cover to liberal Senators and voted against Martinez when she asked that driver's licenses for illegal immigrants be revoked. His side won. Now Jennings comes with direct criticism of Martinez for her handling of Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income and disabled New Mexicans that is fast approaching 600,000 enrolled members and is a Democratic sacred cow. Take a look:

During the past legislative session, the bi-partisan Legislature worked with the business community and individuals to address escalating health care costs and limited access to care. We passed a Health Insurance Exchange bill which was....a private sector solution to limited health insurance access. It provided a vehicle for federal funding and gave the Governor the ability to direct and continue to work with New Mexicans on the design of a health care exchange. Unfortunately, Governor Martinez vetoed the legislation and appears to be planning to move in a different direction through an Executive Order.

...The Human Services Department released a request for proposals (RFP) seeking assistance to develop an “overarching plan for the transformation of the Department’s Medicaid program,” an effort intended “to substantially change the program’s structure.” This expedited process to overhaul Medicaid on such short notice without public and legislative engagement smacks of insider deal-making. It shows disrespect to those who disagree with the Governor, as well as the legislative and public processes aimed at helping the individuals served by Medicaid....


The new GOP administration is being closely watched to see if it tries to go over the heads of the Legislature to enact a wide-ranging deregulation agenda. Besides this Medicaid move, she has attempted to remove labor board members and to overturn a key environmental regulation, both of which were overturned by the state Supreme Court.

MORE MEDICAID MUSINGS


Susana promised during her campaign to spare the Medicaid budget, but has since given herself wiggle room. The program costs the state $1 billion a year, but gets three to four federal dollars for each one it spends. In Washington, Martinez's party is sending a new signal about Medicaid eligibility:

The leaders of two leading advocacy organizations told The Hill that they expect the House Energy and Commerce Committee to move quickly on a bill that would let states set new Medicaid eligibility rules. The bill, introduced last week, would repeal “maintenance of effort” requirements (MOE) in the healthcare reform law, which block states from cutting their Medicaid rolls ahead of the program’s expansion in 2014....

Medicaid eligibility has been a major issue in NM. Household income limits have been raised in recent years resulting in more enrollees.

It is unlikely the Dem US Senate would go along with any revised Medicaid eligibility rules before 2014. But a battle over Medicaid eligibility appears to be where we're headed. Will that be part of the "transformation" the Martinez Medicaid consultants come with?

A final point on Jennings. One of our Senior Alligators says his hang-tough attitude toward the Fourth Floor signals that Republicans have little chance of cutting a deal with Jennings and Dem coalition members in the upcoming legislative redistricting session--if they ever had much of one. In other words, the Dems are going to redistrict the Senate with the interests of Democrats in mind, not the coalition.

TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT?

We blogged Monday about the soaring percentage (23.1) of the state's work force that is made up of government employees. And it is even higher if you count government contractors. That brought reader reaction:

There are a lot less federal government contractors in the state than you might think. Major tests that my company has supported at White Sands are way down. As a result there were major blood lettings of employees for both Boeing and another company. Also, the number of those employed at Kirtland AFB in ABQ is also way down. My best guess is about 20% from two years ago.

The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) use to employee 500-600 at Kirtland. I think it now employees around 180. The previous AFOTEC Commander closed down two AFOTEC detachments. Each employed several hundred military, civil service and contractors. He sent them to Eglin Fl., Colorado Springs, Edwards CA, and Nellis, NV. All of those jobs were lost from NM to other states without one word from our congressional folks.


Kirtland recently released a PR report on the billions the base and Sandia Labs pump into the local economy (which we touted), but you didn't hear about this contractor shrinkage. Maybe someone wants to ask Senator Bingaman or Rep. Heinrich what happened? Or perhaps the Kirtland Partnership Committee, set up to protect all those Air Force jobs and contracts?

This reader rues our state's heavy government employment:

Depending on the government for jobs has made us a ward of the government and a willing hostage of the politicians.

And another in the same vein from reader Steve Gudelj:

Regarding cutting government jobs too soon or too fast, I disagree. At first I agreed with your assessment, but upon further thought I believe smaller government is again the answer. Waste is waste and if we cut a position so be it. The result is a reduced tax burden for New Mexico's citizens and put New Mexico in a position to cut taxes which will promote small business, thus private jobs.

Point taken. But someone out of work is going to go on unemployment, may receive food stamps and perhaps Medicaid.

In ABQ, Mayor Berry has continued a hiring freeze and the city isn't filling some positions as they become vacant. The same for the state. That way you trim the size of government, but soften the economic impact.

There is also one unexplored avenue we haven't heard much talk of. How about more part-time government workers? Aren't there jobs that maybe take a couple of hours a day, but require that an eight hour a day employee be hired?

TOP HEAVY UNM

Still more on NM government workers who are now on the front lines of the Great Recession....

If we're reading this right, don't look for many of those 20 or so University of New Mexico vice-presidents pulling down upwards of $200,000 a year to be trimmed anytime soon:

(Regent Gene Gallegos said) "There needs to be something done about this top-heavy management. We have vice presidents that aren’t needed. There needs to be a consolidation of those functions.”

Because of contractual obligations, (UNM President David) Schmidly said he can’t alter administrative salaries. As he did when the VPs for Branch Operations and Institutional Services left the University, he will keep the least important administrative positions vacant as administrators retire. “As we look at cost containment, we’ve been squeezing the administration and we’re going to squeeze it even more,” he said. “There’s no choice, it’s the right thing to do. There’s no opposition to that.”

Also from the campus, a professor comments on the search for a new president to replace Schmidly who will leave next year:

The search committee needs to be dominated by people who know something about higher education. It would do good to have some outside search members such as the head of Los Alamos Labs or Sandia. The superintendent of APS would be another reasonable choice. Qualified alumni are a good idea too, as long as they are qualified. Qualified in terms of understanding what the challenges are that modern universities face in terms of educating their students and helping the faculty excel as teachers and researchers.

THE BOTTOM LINES


There's plenty of woman power in New Mexico politics. The latest example:

Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, a Las Cruces Democrat, and Sen. Linda Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat, will serve as co-chairwomen of the redistricting committee.

The Legislature is expected to meet in September to redistrict congressional and legislative districts. There are 11 Dems and seven R's on the panel. The 2000 redistricting session lasted 17 days and the redistricting ended up being decided by the courts. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez recently told us he would like to see this session get its work done in seven to 10 days.

From the DC email:

Joe, (ABQ Dem State) Representative Moe Maestas is wrapping up a trip to DC where he has been attending various meetings...

Maestas has formed an exploratory committee to weigh a run for the 2012 Dem nomination for the US House seat being vacated by Rep. Heinrich.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Government Jobs Cast Even Bigger Shadow; Their Share Of State Work Force Soars As Private Sector Sags, Plus: Dear Intel, Throw Us A Bone 

Be careful, government cutters. If you use that scalpel too much, you could keep the New Mexico recession hanging around even longer. We say that because while the state's private sector continues to sag, the percentage of the work force employed by government at all levels has soared to 23.1 percent. In late 2007, just prior to the economic crash, government jobs averaged just over 20 percent of the work force.

And you know it's really much higher than that 23 percent. Throw in the thousands of contractors for the defense and energy departments plus the state, cities and counties and government jobs and you wonder just what the percentage would be. It would be interesting to know for sure, but we don't know of anyone who does that type of survey.

Even as government becomes an ever larger piece of the employment pie here, government jobs, like their private sector counterparts, are actually diminishing, but at a slower rate than the private sector thus their increasing percentage. From the latest state report:

Government employment slipped by 2,800 jobs from its year ago total, with job losses reported at all levels. State government reported 1,900 fewer jobs, while local government, the largest of
the three public-sector components, posted a loss of 500 jobs. Federal government employment was down 400 jobs from this time last year, when census work was just getting started.

It's Governor Susana's job to clean up after the Bull Market party and trim government. But she has to find the right balance. Thousands of well-paying government jobs have already been shed or frozen the past two years. Each time we lose another it's a hit to economic activity--shopping, going to the dry cleaners etc. That in turn is a hit to government tax revenue, exacerbating the budget shortfalls for local and state government.

With the private economy here still stalled, there are not a lot of places for the displaced government employees to find a job. As things hopefully pick up that will change. Meanwhile, the Guv and mayors need to be mindful that budget cuts have a downside--if they go too far.

DEAR INTEL....


State officials are jumping up and down for joy over the issuance of a revised air quality permit for manufacturing giant Intel which operates a sizable plant at Rio Rancho. They say it positions the state for jobs if and when Intel expands there. Neighborhood opponents were not pleased.

The favorable air permit from the state Environment Department comes on the heels of a major controversy over the firing of Sandoval County Manager Juan Vigil. He was given the axe after he pressured Intel to make good on taxes he says the company owes. He is taking the county to court over his firing.

These are two big breaks for the computer chip maker, so where are the jobs? Intel says we are now "positioned" to get them.

But Intel employment has plummeted from a high of about 5,500 in 2006 to the current 3,300. That's a decline of 40 percent. You won't hear many people around here say that out loud. But as much as the company has contributed to the manufacturing economy of the state (besides it's permanent employees, there are numerous Intel contractors), it is not the player it once was but still casts an intimidating shadow. Maybe that isn't so bad if we were getting more of those nice paying jobs out of the deal, but we aren't.

Take a look at this October announcement from Chandler, AZ:

Intel officials said the company plans to expand its factory site in Chandler and create thousands of jobs while building a sleeker, higher performance microprocessor. Intel officials said the company plans to invest between $6 billion and $8 billion in manufacturing in its American facilities for its next-generation 22-nanometer manufacturing processor across several U.S. factories. The microprocessor will enable sleeker device designs, higher performance and longer battery life at lower costs. The investment will support the creation of 6,000 to 8,000 construction jobs and 800 to 1,000 new permanent high-tech jobs in the United States, with a significant portion of those coming to Arizona.

Then there's the recent expansions in China and the state of Oregon:

Intel opened a 300mm wafer fabrication facility in China, its first semiconductor manufacturing plant in Asia. Meanwhile, the chip maker is also expanding in Oregon with a $6- to $8 billion investment in five 22nm fab projects targeting processors for mobile devices.

Intel opened the company's first Asia-based advanced chip manufacturing plant in China, the company said Oct. 26.


So what about us?

Excuse us for being the guy at the dinner table who doesn't use his napkin, but someone has to ask.

It seems recent Intel expansions are big on the construction phase but not as big as they once were when adding permanent employees to make the new chips. That's efficiency. But New Mexico still wants and needs our share. Positioning us for jobs is one thing, providing them is another.

And it's not like we're bashing the company which has been around here since 1980. We like them so much we want more of them here--just like Arizona, Oregon and China.

ENDORSEMENT DUEL


Hector Balderas announced a new round of endorsements last week--mostly politicos from the north. So now Rep. Martin Heinrich, touring the state and dueling with Balderas for the 2012 Dem US Senate nomination, comes with his own list---from the south:

Former Rep. J. Paul Taylor endorsed my campaign along with State Representative Joni Gutierrez, State Senator Steve Fischmann, and former Rep. Jeff Steinborn. I’m honored to have them standing with me in this campaign.

Okay, Hector has the north covered and Martin has come with the south. How about ABQ, fellas? Whose up first?

GARY WHO?

It was a dismal night for former Governor Gary Johnson at the Fox News presidential debate. The carnage was detailed in the WaPo:

Gary who?: Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson came into the debate with low expectations and managed to underperform them. Sensing he was bordering on irrelevance, Johnson asked the moderators for more questions but when he got them he did next-to-nothing with them. It’s hard to see how Johnson builds any momentum with a performance like the one he gave Thursday night.


Pretty scathing, but no surprise here as we've been saying from day one that if Bill Richardson could not break through on the national stage, Gary Johnson sure wasn't going to. (That was one of the safest political predictions we'll ever make.)

But segments of the New Mexico press seem mesmerized by his quixotic campaign and give it acres of space, just about all of it favorable. Why? We detect minimal public curiosity about Johnson who left the governorship in 2002 and has essentially been in political hiding since. He has some interesting ideas (ending the wars is one of them) but his credibility caves when he advocates cutting the Medicare and Medicaid budgets by nearly half and repeatedly advocates for legalizing marijuana.

His infinitesimal chances of breaking through came and went Thursday night when he seemed dumbfounded and out of place. Gary is a master at tackling the ski slopes, but when it comes to
national politics, he is stuck on the beginner's trail.

SPACED OUT PAYMENTS

The state economic development department is pointing fingers at Big Bill's administration for very slow payments for Spaceport contractors, but that's the past. The new team owns it now and the taxpayers expect smooth oversight from the new administration. The news:

A backlog in Santa Fe is causing payment delays of more than two months for about 10 spaceport construction firms, said Christine Anderson, executive director for Spaceport America, while addressing the spaceport's governing body in late April. The companies affected include a mix of the primary contractors--including Summit West--and sub-contractors involved in both construction and professional services, Anderson said.

Anderson, speaking to board members, highlighted a complex invoice approval process that routes paperwork through a series of state agencies. She said she began addressing the concerns soon after being hired. "People are still working, but we have to work very hard to get them paid because that's not a good situation," she said.

The Spaceport falls under the state's economic development department which is headed by Jon Barela. If the slow billing isn't straightened out soon, the fingers will be pointing at him.

THE BOTTOM LINES
Campbell
This comes from David Campbell, the longtime ABQ attorney and former chief administrative officer for the city of ABQ who left to join the Foreign Service:

We got our first assignment in the Foreign Service to Port Louis, Mauritius! Beginning in August, 2011, I will be the Political/Military Officer in the U. S. Embassy there. Shelly and I are thrilled with the assignment, and we look forward to getting there and starting work.

You can find Campbell's blog here.

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