Monday, May 2, 2011

Martinez Speech “Lame,” Fraught With Errors

Someone had to have liked Gov. Susana Martinez’ noon hour speech today to NAIOPNM, the New Mexico Chapter of the Commercial Real Estate Association. The size of the crowd, maybe 500 including about a zillion politicians, gives excellent odds of at least one happy listener.
But the speech wasn’t a “State of the State,” which was how it was advertised. Had Martinez honestly reported the state of the state, she would have had to say, “Not so good, but not as bad as it was.”

Rather, the speech was a report from Gov. Martinez after four months and two days in office. The report contained errors of fact, for which it gets an “F,” overreach, and a “lame” attempt at philosophy. The latter judgment came from a seatmate, a self-admitted liberal who wants taxes increased. On the cliché ridden attempts at bigger ideas, he was right.
A running rhetorical sideshow was Martinez inability to pronounce certain words and to get the right word in the right place, an odd situation from someone who had been talking in public and in courtrooms for years.
Martinez cited the success in expediting government projects of a new Office of Business Advocacy in the Economic Development. A water treatment plant in Las Cruces was one example. She touted a law favoring procurement from in-state businesses. Such a law is by definition a subsidy for local who compete less well with out of state firms.
The state’s tax structure hasn’t been reviewed in 15 years, Martinez said. I’m pretty sure she said 15. I know she didn’t say eight years, which was when the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission thoroughly examined the tax structure, only to have its considerable efforts blown off by the Richardson administration.
A staffer is reviewing the tax structure, Martinez said. The staffer doing the review, who Martinez said was working in her office, is in a cabinet department. Details, details.
Total credit was grabbed for Union Pacific’s planned multi-modal freight facility near Santa Teresa. The credit grab resulted from a tax exemption benefiting the operation that was supported by Martinez and nearly everyone else. In fact, the project has been in the works for several years, has been discussed for perhaps 25 years. The tax exemption was first passed several years ago, was extended once or twice (writing from memory, here), and was merely extended again this year. Extending the exemption may well have a lot to do with Union Pacific starting work, but Martinez cannot claim credit for the project itself.
Asked about the Spaceport by Albuquerque establishment leader Sherman McCorkle, Martinez bounced the question to Jon Barela, economic development secretary, who, Martinez said, had read the latest report. Barela said little, only that Martinez had “brought competence and accountability” to the Spaceport board and management, that some spin-off businesses seemed possible and that intermediate and long term benefits are expected.
In response to a questioner pitching putting the mislaid capital projects bill onto the call for the redistricting special session of the legislature, Martinez talked of having a “statewide plan,” an oft-mentioned truly scary concept that hasn’t yet happened in spite of decades of bureaucratic dreaming.
Jon Barela Sidenote: He’s a good guy and, I suspect, totally well suited for the economic development job he holds now. I’ve seen him in public situations twice in the last six days. Barela is thinking about running for congress again. (He lost to Martin Heinrich last year.) Based on what I’ve in these two presentations, on the performance last year and his dithering in considering a second race, I’m just not inspired about him as a candidate.
Photos by Mark Bralley

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