Aug 28, 2007

Española mayor seeks to soften blow of job cuts

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
August 27, 2007

Maestas calls for diversification of Northern N.M. economy

LOS ALAMOS — The mayor of Española again pushed state lawmakers Monday to consider ways to diversify the economy of Northern New Mexico, especially now that people up north are concerned about possible budget cuts at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Mayor Joseph Maestas also pressed top lab managers for better communication and said state and federal officials need a better plan to deal with past and possibly future job cuts.

“I strongly feel that economic development and investment plans for Northern New Mexico are badly needed to minimize, if not eliminate, the vulnerability of the regional economy, because of its dependence on LANL,” Maestas told legislators with the LANL Oversight Committee.

About 21 percent of the lab’s work force lived in Rio Arriba County in 2006, according to a lab fact sheet. Twenty-three percent lived in Santa Fe County. And 43 percent lived in Los Alamos County.

A total of 12,115 people worked at the lab through June 30. At least 400 contract jobs have been cut since last year as new lab managers absorbed new operating costs, such as state taxes, management fees and pension costs.

“A comprehensive state and federal plan to deal with those job cuts is long overdue,” Maestas told the committee.

State Rep. Jeanette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, told Maestas that these cuts have impacted more than the Española Valley.

“You need to listen to some of us as much as you want us to listen to you,” Wallace said. “Indeed it has hurt Northern New Mexico, and I include Los Alamos as part of Northern New Mexico.”

Maestas also said his community is apprehensive about the federal budget situation. The House has suggested cutting as much as $400 million from nuclear weapons programs at Los Alamos and Sandia National laboratories, compared to the 2007 fiscal year. But the Senate has put much of that money back in its version of the appropriations bill. A settlement has yet to be reached before the new spending year begins Oct. 1.

“Mayor Maestas, I would assure you that there are a lot of apprehensive people right here in Los Alamos,” Wallace said.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 986-3073 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what about the annual $40 million tax windfall the county now enjoys since LANS came into town, or the $8 million plus that the DOE has given the schools each year for years, or the millions more that get pumped into Los Alamos by the DOE to keep snow cleared, roads maintained and fire departments properly equiped. Then of course there's the farce of the LANL Foundation, and the fact that the lion's share of those moneys (fleeced off the taxpayer and the Lab's contractors) ends up in Los Alamos county as well. These are all freebees that the county of Los Alamos enjoys, and yet Jan Wallace would have its neighboring communities believe Los Alamos feels their pain?! The reality is that even in the darkest of economic times, Los Alamos has always floated head and shoulders above the rest. Whenever there's a layoff for example, there too Los Alamos escapes the brunt of the impact, and Wallace damn well knows this. But what the hey, with cameras rolling and pencils poised in reporter's hands, might as well do what politicians do best...mouth off a bunch of meaningless platitudes about motherhood and apple pie. Beyond that, there isn't much value that can be attached to Wallace's twisted attempt at gaining sympathy for the most privileged (wealthy) community in the nation--Los Alamos.

Anonymous said...

Aaah! New Mexico-the Enchanted Welfare State.

Anonymous said...

Don't just blame Jenny Wallace. Her idiotic legislative colleagues sitting on the same committee are more asleep than awake (more often than not). Maybe it's Nick Salazar's whiney voice that dulls the senses. Or maybe it's the LANL Foundation payoffs that keep them sedated. Of course when all else fails, a Lab procurement contract or a job for a kid or two can cause one's eyes to glaze over with glee. These legislators, put simply, are basically a waste of air and space.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Joseph Maestas need not worry about any of his citizens who work directly for LANS being laid off in the upcoming RIF. These LANL workers all belong in a special protected class that won't be touched due to the possibility of ugly legal consequences. Wallace, on the other hand, needs to worry a lot about her folks, as most of them have no special protections. That's the way things work these days. LANL learned their lessons from the '94 RIF and won't make the same mistake twice.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.....is the Espanola Mayor going to promote the education of his citizenry?

Anonymous said...

8/29/07 8:16 AM

You're disgusting! Take your hatred and shove it up your axx!

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 8/29/07 10:25 AM, like it or not, education in Espanola is very poor. The high school drop out rate is close to 50%.

Why hasn't the mayor taken the bully pulpit to encourage the kids to stay in school? Because if the kids go educated they wouldn't vote for him.

Anonymous said...

8/29/07 10:54 AM

The drop out rate is poor throughout the state of New Mexico! We aren't privileged as Los Alamos to get an additional $8.9 Million federal funding because you think you're an elitist community.

Anonymous said...

8/29/07 8:16 AM

You're disgusting! Take your hatred and shove it up your axx!

8/29/07 10:25 AM

There was not hatred associated with the comment. It is a world wide known FACT - Without education you cannot compete.

It is also known that education in Northern NM has not been stressed.

An also widely ignored fact is that people in Los Alamos, and LANL, come from all around the world.

I postulate from your comment - the world is prejudiced agaainst esapnola because they expect the citizenry to pursue education to compete on a level playing field.

Sound about right?

Anonymous said...

In addition to being a community that has traditionally under-stressed the importance of education, Espanola has always been a center for drug trade. Espanola is currently the end of one of the pipelines for Mexican heroin coming in to the country.

As a result of the high incidence of drug usage in the Espanola/Chimayo area, there is a abundance of drug-related crime: theft, wars between competing dealers, drug-fueled violence of all sorts.

All in all, the Espanola area does not have much of a heritage to be proud of, nor does there seem to be much interest from the Espanolans to change their culture of drugs, violence, ignorance, and poverty.

Go ahead: call me a racist. I don't care, I'm not. I've lived in northern New Mexico all my life, and the rest of you who have lived here for a while know that I am, if anything, being gentle in my characterization of Espanola. That is because I know fine, intelligent, hard-working people who live there. They are, unfortunately, in the minority.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, check out the drug/alcohol/corruption at Santa Clara.

Anonymous said...

Looks like they will need to increase the gringo tax. That is, write more speeding tickets to gringos coming off the hill. BIA, Santa Clara pueblo police, Santa Fe county police, San Ildefonso police, Pojoaque police, it feels like I'm running the gauntlet every time I drive to Santa Fe. The only ones I never see are state police. This is the only state I've ever lived in where people actually drive the speed limit. I guess that's to minimize the damages caused by all the drunks.