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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Clamor Grows for NM Ethics Reform; Negative Facts on SunCall TIDD Omitted in LCS Analysis

The drum beat for meaningful ethics and campaign finance reform continues and is getting louder with each passing day. Impatience and frustration are being expressed by New Mexicans from many walks of life and both sides of the aisle.

This morning, a strongly worded op-ed urging state lawmakers to act now appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. The plea was co-written by Don Chalmers, Chairman of the Board of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Jack Taylor, who heads the Commmon Cause New Mexico Board -- two advocates who are on opposite sides of the fence on any number of issues. Not this time. You really should read the entire piece entitled, "Ethics Reform Bogs Down," but here are a few excerpts:

New Mexicans are asking the Legislature for meaningful ethics reform this year, and we couldn't agree more. Apparently, a number of lawmakers are also in agreement, given that they have introduced more than 45 bills related to campaign contribution limits, establishment of an ethics commission, limitations on state contractors' contributions to public officials, fiscal penalties for public officials who have committed crimes related to their office and imposition of state conduct legislation on local governments.

However, we are running out of time to get this done ... we still don't have a single piece of major ethics reform legislation moving through the process fast enough to be considered by both chambers and be sent up to the governor.

As in years past, the major bills are stalled in committee. We know that legislators have a great deal on their plate, but many of these bills were introduced early in the session. They should be heard in committee and moved forward now; otherwise, we will, once again, fail to enact major, meaningful ethics reform.

... Legislators need to do the right thing and take action quickly on ethics reform. This is what their constituents want. This is what the New Mexico business community wants. This is what government reform advocates want. We believe this is probably what most legislators themselves want.

Distorted SunCal Analysis
Unfortunately, despite the serious criticisms about inaction being fielded by NM legislators -- especially on the Senate side -- the foot dragging and mockery of reform advocates and measures continues unabated. Meanwhile, evidence of the corrosive clout of big-dollar donors and slews of highly compensated lobbyists becomes more and more obvious.

Check out this story, also published in the Journal today, which reports that this year's analysis of SunCal's $408 million TIDD proposal -- prepared by the Legislative Council Service and distributed to legislators -- just happened to omit the negative findings that were included in last year's analysis of SunCal's TIDD. You can't make this stuff up:

A 2008 legislative analysis of a so-called TIDD deal for SunCal Cos. said the firm's planned development on Albuquerque's West Side might not generate nearly as much tax revenue as SunCal claimed.

Last year's analysis also said that according to one of SunCal's own studies, most of the demand for industrial space in the giant new development would come from firms already doing business in the Albuquerque area rather than new, out-of-state firms — a top concern of critics who warn the tax break amounts to "cannibalism."

The issue could have a "potentially huge impact for the state," the 2008 analysis said.

Neither of those criticisms was detailed in this year's Legislative Finance Committee analysis given to lawmakers considering the controversial deal, which was approved by the Senate in late February and is pending in the House.

"I absolutely think it (this year's analysis) does not tell the whole story," said Sen. Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque, a TIDD critic who questioned whether the LFC was pressured on the new analysis.

LFC director David Abbey told the Journal on Tuesday that he was indeed pressured on the TIDD issue.

David Abbey refused to identify where the pressure came from and claimed it had no impact, but I find that very had to believe. It's no wonder that the powerful forces trying to stuff this ill-advised boondoggle down the throats of New Mexico taxpayers don't want all the facts known:

The LFC's 2008 analysis, prepared by agency chief economist Norton Francis, said a study done for SunCal assumed most of the industrial growth would be from "intramarket" demand.

"This is activity that would have generated revenue for the state that is moving to an area where half of the revenue is redistributed to the development, a potentially huge impact for the state," Francis wrote.

The analysis added that according to a separate state study, the amount of permanent gross receipts tax revenue generated in several of the areas in the TIDD "will be less than 20 percent of the amount calculated by the (SunCal) study."

TAKE ACTION: Please add your voice to the growing clamor for ethics reform and against the SunCal TIDD. Contact your Senator and Representative, Senate and House leaders and, if you have time, other members of the New Mexico Legislature who have been fighting the will of the people. Let them know in no uncertain terms that they need to start serving the needs of ordinary New Mexicans, not just the demands of corporate campaign donors and lobbyists. Click for contact info.

To see our previous posts on this topic, visit our archive.

March 12, 2009 at 02:30 PM in Business, Ethics & Campaign Reform, NM Legislature 2009, Sprawl Development | Permalink

Comments

The whole SunCal TIDD controbersy makes me furious, of course.

But mainly it's NM Lege "Bindess-as-usual": corruption, mendacity,and venality.

Any legislator who votes to support the SunCal give-away should have a primary opponent next cycle--OTHER then Linda Lopez, who is owned body and soul by SunCal and the Atrisco heirs.

But the thing that frosts my ass unto decomposition is the internal Legislative efforts to muzzle public-service PACs which supply vital information on candidates, most of which they would prefer not to have made public.

HB 808...

On another thread you suggested the following script to express your opinions on the matter to your legislator:

What You Might Say: I believe free speech is a fundamental right we cannot deny anyone. I rely on nonprofits to keep me informed about how my elected officials vote – but all they do is educate me. When I go into the voting booth, I make up my mind about which candidates to support. Such a gag order is not only an affront to the Bill of Rights, but it's also an insult to the intelligence of every engaged and active voter like myself.
As aqn alternative, allow me to suggest the following:
Where do you sleazy, scum-sucking fuckers get the idea you are ENTITLED to your seats? Where do you get the idea that you're entitled to disguise, camouflage, or conceal the identities of those who own your sorry, feculent, venal, mendacious, corrupt asses?

If you vote for HB 808, I declare I shall not only never vote for you, or contribute another dirty red cent to your campaigns, but I shall also work with every tool and all the energy at my disposal to see you kicked to the fucking kerb.

Man UP, motherfucker.

Posted by: woody | Mar 13, 2009 10:06:13 AM

Legislators pushing this garbage believe they are immune to defeat in their next elections. They will try to make sure of that by hand cuffing the non profit groups that put out info on how legislators vote and where they get their money. What they don't get is that the crumby legislators that lost in the last election were defeated by grassroots, door to door action by the winners. They really don't get it.

Posted by: Observer | Mar 13, 2009 12:00:20 PM

We here in California are laughing ourselves silly at how easily your politicians can be bought. Did any of the legislators look beyond their pocketbooks to see the history of this company. What they can't steal, they buy!

Posted by: Stan | Mar 13, 2009 9:15:03 PM