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Government Response to Eclipse

Reading the article in today’s Albuquerque Journal, I was struck by two ridiculous statements made by government officials (subscription). First, this from state Department of Workforce Solutions spokeswoman Carrie Moritomo:

As of Thursday, it was unclear whether Eclipse employees were eligible for unemployment benefits, said state Department of Workforce Solutions spokeswoman Carrie Moritomo. “I don’t know what their employment status is,” she said. “We have not been in contact with Eclipse.”

The employees haven’t been clearly laid off, as was the case in August when close to 800 Eclipse workers lost their jobs in Albuquerque. But since applications for unemployment benefits are considered on a case-by-case basis, Moritomo said Eclipse employees could apply and see what happens.

This is a classic case of government ineptness. Mind you I’m not attacking Carrie Moritomo, she’s just relaying what someone up the chain told her she had to say, but you’ve got to wonder which goofball in state government told her to say it. The Eclipse folks just worked for two weeks without getting paid. Contrary to popular belief, these are not “high wage” jobs. Now, basically all of the employees are two weeks in the hole, and the state can’t figure out whether they are deserving of unemployment – Give Me a Break!

I wrote yesterday that the economy is about to get worse before it gets better, and this example of government ineptness is just another perfect example of why.

Ok, now let’s move to the second ridiculous statement of the day by a government official:

Eclipse is also two months behind on rent payments to the city’s aviation department for its use of four buildings totaling 175,000 square feet at the Sunport, said department planning manager Jim Hinde.

However, the company is current on its payments for its $45 million in industrial revenue bonds issued through the city, said Deirdre Firth, a manager in the city’s economic development department.

IRBs cannot be used to meet payroll, she said. Money from IRBs can only be used for equipment and facilities. Firth also said, “We want to assure the people of Albuquerque that there are no city tax dollars at risk in this project.”

I know Deidre Firth can’t possibly think we’re as stupid as her statement makes us seem to believe. There is no doubt in my mind who dictated that statement – Mayor Martin Chavez. Well, they may want to think twice before making another one like that. First the obvious, if Eclipse is behind on its rent payments to the city, and it goes under then there are lost taxpayer dollars.

Second, the “investment” that IRBs that represent, have been spent on equipment and facilities that will never generate revenue for the city if Eclipse shutters its facility, so the city tax dollars are DEFINITELY aAT RISK.

And, we’ve not even mentioned the $19 million in taxpayer funds invested by the state. The folks over at Eclipse are good people who tried something entrepreneurial that looks like it is going to fail. No big deal, that’s par for the course. What’s wrong with this equation is the government’s involvement using taxpayer dollars.

Look for more problems down the road, or should I say up in space.