Thursday, March 31, 2016

Juarez Registers Strong Growth in 2015
Can You Spare Albuquerque a Few Jobs?

Economic recovery in Juarez is alive.  Juárez added, 32,883 jobs in 2015, for a growth rate of nearly 8%.  Vacancy rate of industrial space is down to 6.5%, down from a high of 15.4%.  This represents positive growth each quarter for the past three years.  TPI, a wind propeller manufacturer, has announced plans to add a 62-acre site (click here for El Paso Inc story).

The growth in Juarez has been led by the automotive sector, which accounts for nearly one third of industrial occupants in Juarez.

There are about 415,000 people earning salaries in Juarez.  Albuquerque employs about 388,000 persons.  But whereas Juarez added nearly 33,000 jobs in 2015, Albuquerque lost 1152 jobs between January 2015 and January 2016, according to preliminary Bureau of Labor statistics (click here)
Bernie!  We Need You in Juarez!

Fully 62% of workers in Juarez earn less than the cost of living, or basket of goods, there, for a family of four, which is $5260 pesos ($292 US dollars) per month.  This is according to the highly respected municipal planning agency (IMIP) of Juarez in its annual 2015 Radiografia Socioeconomica del Municipio de Juarez.  (click here for link to the story in Diario)
Only 20% of workers in Juarez earn more than 5 minimum salaries ($586 US) per month.  Of these, only 2.25% of workers earn over $2345 (US dollars).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Santa Teresa:  Bright Spot in a Bleak NM Economy

El Paso Inc.:  (click for complete story)
  •  Trade totaling $22.8 billion moved through the Santa Teresa Port of Entry last year – 4.3 percent of all trade between the United States and Mexico, according to the El Paso Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  •  El Paso businesspeople, including oil billionaire Paul Foster, are buying swaths of empty desert west of El Paso where they are investing tens of millions of dollars.“There hasn’t been as much land sold in Santa Teresa in the last 10 years as there has in the last 18 months,” said Anthony Mash, a first vice president with CBRE, a global real estate firm.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The CJNG, "El Mencho's" cartel, said to be expanding into Tijuana

The Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (El Mencho) is said to have advanced to the US-Mexico border, where it competes with the Sinaloa cartel (Chapo's cartel) and the remnants of the Arellano Felix cartel.  Homicides have spiked in Tijuana in the past year.  If true, this represents an exceptionally rapid expansion of the cartel in the past four years, from obscure origins as hitmen for Chapo, which led to it's nickname "matazetas," (kill the zetas--a rival set of hitmen for the Gulf cartel), to a multi-state, powerful organization operating in Mexico City, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Gerrerao, Morelos, Veracruz, and now Baja California.  Baja California is a major prize, given its direct access to the market in the U.S.

A blog that follows border drug trafficking is Borderland Beat, from which I obtained some of the information in the above paragraph.  I have not followed drug trafficking for several years, and I am thinking about renewing my interest in it, if there is any interest among my readers.

Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, "El Mencho"), leader of the CJNG

Saturday, March 26, 2016

New Mexico 49th among states in the income it takes to make the Bernie top 1%

Is your household income $241,000 or more?  If not, YOU are not in the top 1% in New Mexico!  But in all states except Arkansas, it takes more, sometimes much more, to be in the Bernie top 1%.  In Connecticut, it takes $678,000 to make the top 1%.  In Colorado it takes $405K.  New Mexico is
surrounded by states where it takes $300K or more to make the Bernie list.
  But the $241K is just the lowest price of admission, getting you to the bottom of the barrel of the top 1%.  The average income of those in the top 1% in New Mexico is $675,216.  The bottom 99% average income per household is a whopping $36,883.  In Connecticut in order to be the average one-percenter, you need to be making $2,683,600, almost four times more.  In inflation-adjusted income the bottom 99% in New Mexico are down 8.5% from where they were in 1979, while the top 1% are 82% up. To look at each state, click here

Friday, March 25, 2016

 New Mexico at the Tail End Again.  Does Sanders Beat Trump?  Are White Working Class Men Morally Deficient?

New Mexico Unemployment:  The average unemployed person in New Mexico can expect to be unemployed for about ten months (43.5 weeks), and almost half (45.3%) of all unemployed persons will be unemployed for more than 27 weeks, according to data compiled by  This makes New Mexico the worst state in the union in which to find yourself unemployed.  New Mexico is surrounded by states (Texas, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma) where unemployment periods last about half as long.

Kasich Beats Clinton and Sanders in latest polls:  Most recent polls show both Clinton and Sanders beating Trump (and Cruz) handily in the general election.  But Kasich appears to be well ahead of Clinton in recent polls (beating her by 6 points in a March 24 poll, and competitive with Sanders, beating him by 1 point in two polls, but losing to Sanders in a March 21 CNN poll by 6 points. Expect a lot of media attention to be focused on Kasich, whose campaign at this point appears to be based on these polls and on his modest "aw, shucks" demeanor in contrast to the bombastic self-assurance of Cruz and the gleefully delivered insults that form the core of Trump's campaign.

Kick the White Working Class that Supports Trump:  A National Review article by Kevin Williamson, ("Father-Fuhrer"--you can read it here for 25 cents) essentially telling the angry white working class to quit whining, rent a U-Haul, and go to a city with jobs, kicked up quite a storm.  In reply, the Arnade article (click here) sympathizes with them, arguing their plight is not the result of any moral failure on their part, but of multiple layers of government policies.

Does legal and illegal immigration hurt American workers?:  One out of twenty workers is unauthorized.  The Camarota and Krogstad and Passell articles are excellent summaries based on solid research.  Camarota has been looking at the evidence for many years, and relies on George Borjas' work at Harvard.  David Card at Berkeley (click here) has a different perspective

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rivalry Over Tribal Status Continues

 Ed Roybal, Cacique, Piro Manso Tiwa Tribe (PMT)

 On Monday the Las Cruces City Council tabled a motion whereby "full support is established for the petition of the (PMT) to achieve their long-sought federal recognition..."  On Tuesday the Dona Ana County Commission voted to "support the petition" of the PMT to become recognized as a tribe.  But it took some heated debate in the audience on Tuesday before the motion was approved by a vote of 3-2.  The first resolution is deliciously ambiguous:  is the support for the sending of the petition to the federal government, or for the federal government to grant the petition?  The second motion seems more clearly in favor of the granting of the petition.  Language makes a difference.

Commissioner Garrett began discussion of this item assuring the audience the motion was not intended to take sides in the substance of rival claims, but merely to acknowledge the right of groups to petition the federal government for recognition as a tribe. He made this point twice. As pointed out by Commissioner Rawson, however, the wording of the resolution was to "support the petition" to the federal government for recognition.  So by a slight slippage of language, but by a huge conceptual leap between the more modest verbal language of Commissioner Garrett and the actual wording of the commissioner's motion, it appeared the commission voted to support the claim to recognition sought by the PMT.

Arianna Fierro, representing the Corporation, (see yesterday's blog) certainly saw it that way and complained that the resolution, to the extent it made a difference in the outcome of the petition, could jeopardize the interests of the Corporation, since the petition contains a claim to property now legally under the control of the Corporation.  If recognition were granted, according to her argument, this might strengthen the case for seizure of property by the PMT.  In reply, representatives of the PMT argued the case for recognition had nothing to do with assets, but rather with legitimizing a longstanding claim for the PMT's identity, amply documented, as members of a tribe.  Complicating matters even more, there is another, and possibly a fourth, group claim to membership in the thus-far unrecognized tribe.

I asked Cacique Ed Roybal after the vote about his interpretation of the motion.  He believed the motion limited itself to support RMT's moving forward with the petition itself, not to express approval of recognition, the language of the resolution to the contrary.  I took this as a hint he might be willing to take a step toward reconciliation.  I thought I detected a similar hint the day before from Arianna.  Leadership is about creating effective collaboration for the good of the whole.

Full disclosure:  my wife's (Olivia Nevarez) uncle, Charlie Madrid, played a significant role in articulating the first case for the PMT back in the 1970s.  An excellent history from the PMT's point of view is found in  At the same time the mother of Olivia's brother-in-law lived most of her life in Tortugas.  The late Ruben Flores, and Felipe Chavez, on opposite ends of this dispute, were valued friends and allies of mine and both have been  highly influential and respected in the larger community.  Frida Flores was a student of mine.  Many of us in Las Cruces are friends with people on both sides.

I have reservations about the wisdom of public bodies expressing opinions about controversial issues that will be resolved a higher levels of decision making.  My attendance at the county commission meeting on Tuesday reinforced this reservation.  But should these resolutions result in greater awareness of the issues and stakes of the Tortugas people, it may be healthy for the body politic.  Hopefully the factions will take this opportunity to explore for themselves the possibilities of eventual spiritual and political unity.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tortugas:  Internal Rivalry Over Tribal Recognition

Arianna Fierro, President of the Tortugas Corporation and Patrick Narvaez, Acting Cacique

There is a lot on Arianna Fierro's plate as the newly selected President of the Tortugas Pueblo Corporation.  It might be helpful to pause here for a little background.

During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 groups of Piro and Tiwa natives relocated to the vicinity of El Paso from their traditional settlements near Socorro and further North along the Rio Grande.  They were accommodated by the Manso natives who lived in the El Paso region, and the three groups maintained strong relationships and inter-married thereafter.  In the late 1800s some Piro, Manso, and Tiwa natives relocated to Las Cruces, creating a single unified tribal unit.  They have lived in Tortugas, now a suburb of Las Cruces, ever since. 

There are two distinct, rival, villages within the Tortugas community.  The Eastern part of Tortugas, known as San Juan, is home to the PMT, the Piro Manso Tribe.  The Western part is home of the Guadalupe, or Tortugas Pueblo.  Both share the same heritage.  The split became serious in the 1940s when Miguel Fierro, from the Guadalupe side, split from the San Juan side over money issues, becoming the sole custodian of the Corporation, formed in 1914 to protect the tribe's heritage and property.  Arianna is Miguel Fierro's great granddaughter.

In 1971 the PMT sought tribal status from the federal government.  It was denied, but the effort continues in various venues.  On Monday March 21 the Las Cruces City Council will be asked to support the PMT's new efforts to seek federal recognition.  The Guadalupe, or Corporation, side is opposed to granting the PMT tribal status, fearing the PMT may use this enhanced status to claim the assets of the Corporation, which funds much of the spiritual side of the community.  All of this has opened up debate on the Guadalupe side about whether it, too, should seek tribal recognition; whether efforts should be made to reconcile differences with the PMT, and what the overall political goals of the Corporation should be.  Fierro has her hands full.  Standing by her side is Acting Cacique Patrick Narvaez, spiritual leader of Guadalupe.
Senator Papen and Jose Luis Nevarez talking Local Politics in Tortugas

I caught onto all of this on Sunday, March 20, when I overheard Senator Mary Kay Papen discuss some of these issues with Jose Luis ("Lio") Nevarez, at lunch in one of the fund raising events hosted by the Corporation.  This led to my interview with President Fierro and the Acting Cacique.

Senator Papen, currently President of the New Mexico Senate, has a long history of involvement with the Tortugas community, walking the "A" mountain trek most every December, finding capital outlay funds for various projects in Tortugas, and in general befriending many citizens there, such as her long friendship with the late Maria Baldon who, although not part of the Corporation, was an active participant in the community.  Sen. Papen also knows many members of the PMT, including a former student of mine, Frieda Flores, whose father, Ruben Flores, was well known as a Democratic Party stalwart (I knew him years ago when he was a precinct chair) and who survived the Bataan Death March.  Tortugas has produced many exceptional civic leaders, among them my friend Felipe Chavez, a union leader influential in the Democratic Party, and past President of the Corporation..

Leadership is important, and from the looks of things, the Corporation is in excellent hands with Narvaez and Fierro.  Narvaez, as Acting Cacique, is the custodian of the Tombé, the drum, which signifies the cultural and spiritual heritage of the tribe, expressed in various rituals and dance ceremonies, some of which are closed to outsiders.  Fierro has a full time job as a paralegal, and is a graduate of NMSU.  Suerte, Arianna; the political destiny of your community has been entrusted to you.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Marco Rubio and the Strong Man

In the waning days of his losing campaign in Florida, Marco Rubio began using the theme of the Latin American strong man to describe Trump.

You go to Latin America you go to the third world they are bedeviled by leaders that stand up and say, I am going to be a strong leader.  I am going to solve all your problems.  Give me power and I will make your life better," he said.  "And it always ends in disaster, always."

Having studied Latin American dictators, strong men, military juntas, civil wars, and revolutionaries for many years, let me reflect on this theme for a few lines.

The last classic strong man in Latin America was Hugo Chavez, from Venezuela.  He led a failed coup against President Carlos Andres Perez in 1992, costing him two years in jail.  He was elected president in 1998 and ruled in semi-dictatorial fashion for 15 years.  He died of cancer, still president, in 2013.  He took obvious pleasure insulting the U.S. with his buddy Fidel Castro and other left-wingers in the Andes, such as Evo Morales in Bolivia, Ollanta Humala in Peru, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador.  He insulted domestic enemies as well.  Megalomaniacal?  Yes!  He tried to build a cult around his personality.  He had a nightly television call-in program as President, and his mother frequently called in to "scold" him about bureaucratic glitches.  Popular with the masses?  Yes!  He loved creating international mischief.  The U.S. State Department loved to hate him, and Venezuela is still a mess (100% inflation in 2015) three years after his departure.

But how did this out-sized blowhard come to power in the first place?  Did people vote for him only because he promised to solve all their problems?  What was happening in Venezuela when, as a Lt. Colonel he led a failed military coup and won election easily five years later?

A couple of clues:  (1) The president Chavez tried to overthrow, Carlos Andres Perez (known as CAP), was indicted in 1993 for stealing 250 million bolivars of public funds.  He was forced to resign and jailed for 28 months in 1996, and then accused again in 1998 and 2001 of massive embezzlement of funds during his presidency.  (2) The establishment political party he belonged to, the AD, a Christian Democratic party, had alternated in power since 1958 with the COPEI, a slightly more conservative Social Christian party.  CAP had been president from 1974-1979, during the boom days of oil prices.  Corruption was rampant, accountability disappeared.  The two major parties, controlling Congress and alternating in the presidency, squandered revenues with lavish favoritism toward insiders, creating massive levels of debt.  After years of bipartisan mismanagement of the economy, with little to show for the oil boom, and high levels of public disgust at the corruption, CAP ran for president again in 1988, this time as a leftist reformer who argued Venezuela's economic problems were the result of foreign neoliberal policies known as the Washington Consensus (later backed strongly by President Clinton).  He promised to help out the neglected middle and lower sectors.  But after winning he quickly embraced the very neoliberal reforms he had repudiated openly in the campaign, largely at the expense of the lower and middle classes, raising the price of subsidized transportation services and the price of gasoline and allowing rampant inflation to impoverish many sectors of the lower and middle classes.  When riots broke out the national guard killed somewhere between 500 and 3000 protesters.  Corruption continued unabated.  The public was even more outraged than before/  And then a paratroop commander named Hugo Chavez tried to overthrow the president and put an end to the spoils system.

The point is this:  it took the failure of the two-party system in Venezuela  mired in corruption, mismanagement, and blatant favoritism, for the public to turn away from the establishment and elect a strong man, who, once in office, destroyed the despised two-party system. I could cite many other examples of similar failures of ruling coalitions, across many decades, that gave rise in Latin America to the arrival of a strong man:  Juan Peron in Argentina, Haya de la Torre in Peru, Rojas Pinilla in Colombia, Velasco Alvarado in Peru, Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador--the list goes on and on.  In each of these cases the chronic failure of establishment political parties to satisfy the public led to the rise of strong men to acted often with great initial public acclaim.

The important question, then, may not be why people would follow a strong man, but why they would reject establishment politics, in spite of the uncertainties inherent in turning to the unknown?  It usually takes a lot of system failure for this to happen.

Viewed from this perspective, Trump's rise (and in less dramatic fashion Sanders' popularity) to levels no one expected just six months ago, in the face of enormous establishment opposition, can be interpreted as an indicator of system failure, rather than as a result of the kind of promises he makes, or of characteristics of people who form his base.  Both Sanders and Trump are clear about this.  Sanders calls it a "corrupt campaign finance system" that rigs it for the rich.  Trump says simply, "we aren't winning anymore," and promises to bring the good-paying jobs back home from China.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Figuring Out the 2016 Election Cycle:  What Went Wrong With the Narrative?

Commentary about what underlies the Trump-Sanders upset-the-flimsy-applecart phenomenon is beginning to produce serious insights, after months of confusion when the two most interesting candidates strayed too far from what is referred to as the "mainstream narrative" about political reality.  In fact, what is beginning to emerge (link to the above) is an alternative narrative about how political reality was hijacked by a coalition of Republican and Democrat leaders and corporate interests, including the mainstream news media, who created and enforced a fictional account of reality that justified much of the bipartisan mischief that has passed for policy making in the past quarter century.  It was the stubbornness of Trump's supporters, vilified by Democrats and Republicans alike for supporting Trump in spite of, and indeed because of, his blasphemies against political correctness and his attack on the media--that inspired a deeper look at the Trump phenomenon and a closer look at the underbelly of the bipartisan consensus of the last two decades.

It takes a con-artist to expose a con:  From the Left, Krugman's piece suggests the real anger among Republicans against Trump is that he has exposed the con-job mainstream Republicanism has perpetrated on Trump's supporters (largely white males) by leading them to believe their anger should be directed against Liberals, Democrats, and especially Obama and Hillary.  Instead, Trump tells his supporters that currency manipulation by China (supported by the way by US corporate interests), bad free-trade deals, stupid but expensive wars, and dumb bipartisan and wacko immigration policies--all perpetuated by a well-heeled bipartisan coalition in Washington--are the causes of our national decline.  Take away the racially charged, misogynist, and nativist icing on this cake, and it begins to taste a lot like Bernie Sanders, right?  Add a hint of raspberry campaign finance corruption, a note of cinnamon shovel-money-to-the-one-percent, drop the fragrances of beaten up protesters, and (link to "Why the Working Class...") you would hardly notice the difference!

Get over it and find a job:  From the Right (and mainstream) Mark Thoma ("The Truth About...") reproduces parts of an article in National Review, by Kevin Williamson, telling Trump supporters to quit listening to Trump blame the expensive wars, China's currency manipulation, poor trade deals, and immigration policy for their troubles:  Just rent a U Haul and head to a city with a growing job market:  and, by the way, vote for Cruz, Rubio, or Kasich.  Not exactly a novel idea, but one that is more frequently reserved for the black unemployed, instead of a major component of the Republican base.

Take a look at the inside of Bernie's "corrupt political system:"  The Right has not delved much into what might be behind the Bernie phenomenon.  Analysis of Bernie (even from the Left) has been as shallow as the Left's analysis of Trump six months ago.  In most circles, Republican or Democrat, and in the mainstream news media, he is still desmissed as a hopeless "populist," as though the word itself was an explanation.   But some stuff is beginning to percolate, including the Pro-Market piece, which exposes the blatant, and legal, corruption in the pharmaceutical industry's relationship with doctors, and in the Justin Fox and Thoma pieces.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

 Columbus NM Concludes 100th Anniversary Commemoration of the Pancho Villa Raid
Phillip Skinner, Mayor of Columbus, March 12,  2016

On March 9, 1916, Pancho Villa, his army crippled from defeat the year before at the battle of Celaya (a turning point in the civil war between Villa and Carranza) attacked Columbus, NM, just across the border, with a force of about 500 horsemen.  The reasons for doing this have not been totally settled by historians, but almost certainly Villa believed that this attack would provoke an armed intervention of the U.S. Army into Mexico, and he must have believed he might benefit somehow from a U.S. invasion. Our memory of that raid is inseparable from our sense of the man, the character--ruthless, at times brilliant, dangerous, always fascinating--that was Pancho Villa.  The closest American figure of that time period who stirs us in a similar way is Teddy Roosevelt:  both men invented themselves through highly creative actions, projecting larger-than-life personalities each was unafraid to indulge while on the stage of history.

Yesterday in Columbus Mexican horsemen from the cabalgada swapped stories with men dressed in Blackjack Pershing uniforms, couples danced in the main square, and the museums were full.  In Palomas, on the Mexican side, Americans ate and drank beer to lively Mexican oldies played by local musicians at the Pink Store.

Here on a hundred-year-old battleground, winds and dust of March, blowing stiffly all day long, paying no heed to the borderline, we seemed to be a very long distance from the 60 ft. wall of Donald Trump's imagination.  The border seemed to be a friendly place again, people on both sides using an anniversary as a good excuse to party it up on a Saturday in the early spring.

Sergio Romero, owner of the Pink Store

100 Years After the Attack on American Soil, No One Seemed to Think we Need a 60 Ft. Wall 
Between Palomas and Columbus Today

Friday, March 11, 2016

TIRED OF THE MAINSTREAM COVERAGE OF THE PRIMARY CAMPAIGN?  TRY THESE LINKS:  (The Wall St. Journal and NY Times are of course main street, but the content is not)

Understanding the Immigration Debate:

Immigration policy in the past 30 years has tended to be debated within the larger framework of globalization.  A "neoliberal" consensus (now contested in the U.S. political arena for the first time by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) developed in Washington, adopted wholeheartedly by Bill Clinton, the two Bush presidencies, Mitt Romney, Obama, and, now, Hillary Clinton, that globalization is inevitable and should not be resisted.  Businesses should be able freely to move around the world with no interference from governments, taking advantage of cheap labor markets so consumers might benefit from lower costs of production.  Free trade should be encouraged everywhere.  Workers in the U.S. hurt by free trade (high-wage manufacturing jobs going overseas) should get over it and go back to college to train themselves for the "new economy" jobs in high tech industries, or settle for a job flipping hamburgers.  Immigration policy, following along these lines, should look the other way at illegal immigration, which simply represents a kind of outsourcing of cheap jobs to foreign countries, part of the brave new world of globalizing processes.  We can debate whether illegal workers should become citizens or not, and whether we should increase barriers to illegal entry (Trump's Great Wall), but only after conceding that immigration is good, overall, for the nation.

This conventional wisdom about immigration has been challenged for about a quarter century now, but contained, until Trump and Sanders, largely within an obscure academic debate between two mainstream economists on opposite coasts:  David Card at Berkeley, and George Borjas of Harvard.  Card's research indicates that immigrant labor, legal or illegal, has little negative impact on wages within a given labor market, and that increases in the minimum wage in local markets does not result in job reduction.  Borjas' work shows the opposite, indicating that, indeed, immigrant labor tends to depress wages in local job markets.  Card's work has been used by liberals who argue for higher minimum wages and for greater tolerance of illegal immigrant populations:  the lower classes should not worry about the economic effects of illegal workers.  Borjas' work tends to be cited by labor unions and by anti-immigrant groups:  illegal migration hurts the lower classes while increasing profits for employers; this analysis has tended to open the door to non-economic, that is to say, cultural, arguments against immigration.  As the neoliberal consensus appears to be breaking down, at least in the political discourse of non-establishment candidates (Sanders and Trump) in the primary election season, the immigration debate is getting more attention, as evidenced by these articles.  The Frum article is a reminder to us that academic debates are sometimes politicized to the point of manipulation of data--on both sides.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Diana Murillo Trujillo Wins Mayor's Race in Anthony

Arnulfo Castañeda was ousted as mayor in Anthony, by voters who selected Diana M. Trujillo instead.  In a telephone conversation with her this morning she told me she thought she won "because I talked to a lot of people, door to door, and they know my passion to help the youth, and also my commitment to an open door policy."  By 7:30 this morning she had already received a phone call from the mayor of Anthony Texas, inviting her to work together, and she has plans to attend El Paso MPO meetings again.

The race for mayor was difficult to analyze before the election, since turnout in municipal elections tends to be low, and in a five-person race I calculated a candidate could win the election by as few as a hundred votes in a close matchup.  As it turned out Murillo received 187 votes for the win.  Juan Acevedo came in second, with 150 votes; Peggy Scott 147; Castañeda 93, and Aguirre 22.  This adds up to 599 votes, a relatively high turnout for a mayor's election, indicating there was more interest in the race than usual.

Fernando Herrera and Gloria Gameros won election for trustee positions.

This was a hard-fought election, and each of the candidates had considerable personal strengths, as I tried to point out in my interviews with them.  Evidently, from the vote count, Mayor Castañeda had lost much support from the citizens, not just from the trustees, as I had reported earlier.

¡Felicitaciones a los ganadores, y much suerte en el futuro!

Incidentally, if I may permit myself a personal note of pride, Ms. Trujillo was a student of mine in a class at NMSU some years ago.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Elected Mayor:                      Javier Perea
Elected to City Council 6      Donald McBride
Elected to City Council 4      Carolina Renteria
Elected to City Council 1      Ken Giove
Elected to City Council 5      Olga Arguelles

Each of the newly elected officials has been elected for the first time.  Perea was appointed mayor in 2012; Giove was appointed to the council two years ago.  McBride, Renteria, and Arguelles have never run before.

There is, however, an enormous amount of knowledge each brings to the new administration.  Perea has served well for four years.  He knows the role of mayor well.  No on-the-job training for him.  Giove has served for two years on the council, but has spent several years learning the mechanics of city government, relations between the city and the outside world, and the major issues.  Renteria has a lifetime of experience as an activist in the Sunland Park Community.  She knows what people think.  McBride has extensive contacts in the business world throughout the border region and exceptionally strong managerial experience.  And Olga Arguelles is well known for her work with the community as a health care advocate.  She will add a welcome note of grace to deliberations.  In my conversations, I found each to have an exceptional combination of realism--a knowledge how hard it is to make change happen--and a countervailing idealism--a knowledge that change is possible.  Each has a strong, realistic vision of where Sunland Park might go.  And the native intelligence of each of these winners would raise the average IQ level of a typical class of 40 of my students at NMSU by at least five points.

But talent, smarts, and experience are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for success.  The council and mayor must learn to work as a team, each contributing to the whole.  Priorities for action must be sorted out.  Mechanisms for dealing well with policy disagreements must be devised.  And it helps to have a little luck (Fortuna, as Machiavelli used to say) along the way.

The losing candidates are talented, too, perhaps just less experienced.  The city would do well to ask them to join in to make the city thrive:  they have a lot to offer.  Clemente knows what an urban environment might look like if well done.  Nunez has talent and a willingness to explore new avenues for his energy.  Santos knows a lot about the details of city politics in the past, and a strong and healthy willingness to go against the grain.  Formidable opponents; possible allies.

Ciudadanos de Sunland:   Han puesto sus mejores ejemplares ante el pueblo para esta seleccion:  El pueblo ha decidido.  El nuevo equipo necesitará todo en apoyo que el pueblo les puede brindar.

Vayan con Dios:  It was an honor and a privilege for me to share some time with you.