I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
State film adviser must take pay cut to keep contract, agency says
New Mexico’s state film adviser, Peter Dekom, must take a $90,000 pay cut if he wants to continue to advise the State Investment Council (SIC) on what film productions are worthy of no-interest loans, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
Dekom has earned $350,000 a year for part-time work analyzing applications from film productions seeking one of the state’s no-interest loans, a program that supporters say helps New Mexico lure film and TV productions — and jobs — to New Mexico. But earlier this year the agency started looking at Dekom’s salary and asking what it was getting in return.
On Tuesday the SIC offered Dekom a new contract, albeit one that is $90,000 lighter and with a requirement that he spends 30 hours a week on SIC work, the Journal reports. Before there was no work requirement.
A handful of others had applied to replace Dekom as the agency’s film adviser, but the search returned to Dekom, the Journal quotes State Investment Officer Steven Moise as saying.
That decision left some unhappy, as reflected in the 7 to 3 vote to approve the contract offer, according to the Journal.
“Why do we need someone to help us lose money?” the paper quotes SIC member and former legislator Leonard Lee Rawson as saying. “We’re paying a lot of money and not, in my mind, getting a lot of performance for the state.”
Critics have complained that the no-interest loan program doesn’t really help New Mexico. But supporters say it helps brings jobs to New Mexico.
As of May, New Mexico had given no-interest loans totaling $273 million to 26 projects since 2003, according to a chart on the SIC Web site. The loans have varied from the $15 million given to the Denzel Washington film Book of Eli to $1.7 million given to the more obscure to Cruel World (aka The Experiment).
While defenders say the loan program helps attract jobs, there have been missteps. Bordertown, a Jennifer Lopez film, initially defaulted on a $2.35 million loan, an action that converted the loan into a interest-bearing loan, which was paid back in full, Witt said.