Swickard: Come now to the aid of our oil patch

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Now is the time for all New Mexicans to come to the aid of our oil patch. The New Mexico oil patch has sustained us in New Mexico for decades both in products we use and as the prime financial support of our public education system. Unfortunately, with the global drop in prices our oil patch is going into a hard time.
      New Mexico has been politically pushed to fund green energy projects which do not have the generation density to be cost-effective and useful. Our oil patch has long funded the public schools, the green energy projects fund the politicians. We need public schools more than we need politicians. We will eventually abandon all of the green projects when we run out of money we wish to spend on politics.
      However, the oil patch is the real deal for New Mexico. Therefore in this price drop we New Mexicans need to recognize the opportunities an oil price war provides our state. When the New Mexico oil patch prospers, so do all New Mexicans.
       This war for market share has happened before. And therein is a lesson: Congressman Steve Pearce had a company in the oil patch when oil prices declined to the point the oil patch essentially shut down. That is where we are headed so we need to take a page from Pearce's playbook.
      Steve Pearce and wife Cynthia had a well service business with dozens of employees when an oil price fluctuation stalled production in New Mexico and West Texas. They went against conventional wisdom and keep all of their employees on the payroll unlike other companies who quickly trimmed their workforce because there was no work.
      Those workers who were let go went on unemployment and then drifted into other lines of work. Steve and Cynthia's workers kept busy working in the company. They based their extraordinary risk on their personal faith and their sense of the value of their workers.
      Early on they decided to go to the very ends of their savings. It was close. Within a couple months of when they would have to shutter the company the oil patch suddenly lurched to life because prices shot up. Their crew was ready and able to work the first day those services were needed. For that giant bet on the future, there was quite a reward for Steve and Cynthia as the only company ready the first day the oil patch revived.
        The future of our public schools and much of our state's economy hangs in the balance. For the public schools there is nowhere else to make this money. Come now to the aid of our oil patch and we all will prosper together. Read full column


Sources: DA anticipates charging APD officers in Boyd shooting

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – District Attorney Kari Brandenburg’s office anticipates pursuing open counts of murder against the two Albuquerque police officers who shot homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills on March 16, KRQE News 13 has learned. 
      It is a preliminary decision, made several weeks ago, based on multiple reviews of more than 1,000 pages of evidence and nine DVDs containing recordings from APD’s investigation of the shooting, which police turned over to prosecutors in early October, multiple sources have told KRQE News 13.
     Brandenburg has said she expects to make a final decision in the spring on whether to pursue charges against the two officers — Keith Sandy, who has since retired from APD, and Dominique Perez of the SWAT team — in one of the most controversial in a long string of police shootings in New Mexico’s largest city.
     Prosecutors have a somewhat unorthodox plan for the Boyd case, the sources said. Rather than using a grand jury session, which is conducted in secret, they anticipate presenting the charges during a preliminary hearing in open court, where a judge would decide whether there is probable cause to go on to trial.
     By presenting open counts of murder, prosecutors would give jurors in a trial a range of charges to choose from, all of which are predicated on the theory that the officers killed Boyd intentionally. The stiffest of those charges is first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. At the other end of the spectrum is voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of six years in prison.
     Pursuing charges against police officers in a shooting would mark a significant departure for Brandenburg. In 14 years as DA, she has declined to prosecute each of the roughly 100 police shooting cases that have landed on her desk. More


Lawmakers to consider state children’s song

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico has an official state tie, the bolo tie. There’s the state question, red or green? The state even has its own song. But what about an official state children’s song?
      It’s one of the bills lawmakers could make into law next month. Mesilla Elementary music teacher, Melanie Williams wrote the song three years ago for a third grade program on food.
        “There wasn’t really anything out there about green chile. I thought that was a shame, so I wrote a song for my students to sing,” Williams said.
        Now her song could become a part of New Mexico history. A student’s mother talked to Dona Ana County State Representative Bill McCamley who wants to make it the state’s official children’s song.
       Both houses would have to approve McCamley’s bill in the upcoming session. Representative McCamley hopes its one bill lawmakers can agree on. “We’re celebrating who we are as people. Celebrating our food, celebrating our culture, celebrating our children,” McCamley said.
      Williams no longer teaches but says she’s honored her song will even be considered. More

Marita Noon: Germany’s “energy transformation” — unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system

Commentary by Marita Noon - Perhaps when Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was a child, she attend a party and was the only one who came without a present, or wearing inappropriate attire—and the embarrassment she felt haunts her to this day. That’s how psychodynamic psychology (Freud) might explain her December 3 decision spend more money on Germany’s failing energy experiment to avoid, as Reuters puts it: “the embarrassment of missing her government’s goal of a 40 percent reduction of emissions by 2020.”
      As Europe’s biggest economy, Germany has also embraced the biggest carbon dioxide reductions through a program known as “Energiewende”—or, in English, also called energy change, shift, or transformation. Energiewende was launched in 2000 under Merkel’s predecessor who offered subsidies for any company that produced green energy.
       While the European Union (E.U.) has committed to carbon dioxide cuts of 40 percent by 2030, Germany’s national goal aims to get there a decade sooner—which may have seemed achievable early in the program. After the 1990 reunification of Germany, the modernization of East Germany brought rapidly reduced emissions. However, the program’s overall result has raised costs and the emissions the expensive programs were designed to cut. Read full column

NM Supreme Court: Judge removed by voters must leave bench

From KOB-TV.com - A New Mexico judge who attempted to stay in office despite being ousted by voters must go, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.
      District Judge Sheri Raphaelson did not receive enough retention votes in the November election. In 2009, she was appointed to fill a vacancy for a term that began in 2008. Raphaelson then won a 2010 election.
      Raphaelson argued that under law, she must serve a complete six-year term that began after the 2010 election.
      But the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state Attorney General's Office says she inherited a six-year term that started in 2008.
      Justices voted unanimously on Monday that she must leave the bench at the end of the year. More

NM Airlines plans to resume flights

From KOAT-TV.com - New Mexico Airline planes remained grounded Friday after the airline voluntarily parked the fleet for mechanical issues this week.Flights have been canceled until further notice.
      Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Lynn Lunsford wouldn't say what mechanical issues New Mexico Airlines was working on. The airline made the decision several days ago, and Lunsford said all five planes operated by the airline were still being worked on.
      Passengers expressed frustration at the Albuquerque International Sunport Thursday after landing for connecting flights with New Mexico Airlines, only to learn they were canceled. New Mexico Airlines says they would reimburse passengers whose flights were cancelled.
      CEO of Pacific Wings Greg Kahlstorf, who runs New Mexico Airlines, says the mechanical issues are a temporary issue and expects his fleet to be up in the air again soon.
      New Mexico Airlines’ destinations include Albuquerque, Los Alamos, and Carlsbad; their main hub is at the Albuquerque International Sunport. It primarily flies smaller aircraft that seat up to nine passengers.
      Kahlstorf said flights from Los Alamos to Albuquerque will resume in the future, but added that the company will suspend flights to their Carlsbad destination indefinitely until the FAA addresses safety issues at the airport there.
      Carlsbad Airport is an uncontrolled airfield and has no tower because of its low volume of traffic, according to the FAA. Kahlstorf said there is a helicopter operation next to the airport that imposes safety hazards to his planes when they land and when they take off.
      Kahlstorf didn't give an exact date of when New Mexico Airlines will begin resuming flights to their Los Alamos and Albuquerque destinations. More

Swickard: America's war on the military

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - December 7 is a sacred day for our military and me. My father George Swickard was a combat soldier in WWII. He retired in 1966. Growing up we lived on military bases. Our playmates were all from military families. Pearl Harbor Day and the Arizona Memorial Commemorating that day are cherished by my family.
      My Grandfather Horace Swickard served on the border following the Pancho Villa raid and went directly to France with General Pershing. I have his memorabilia from World War I, The Great War, The War to end all War, etc. My father's burial flag is proudly displayed in my home. He is buried with my mother at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
      As to the Bataan Death March, my father has a cousin William Swickard. Read his story: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/68527-world-war-ii-survivor-william-swickards-recollection/
      The military and its honor is important to me. While the "Date that will live in infamy" still burns in my heart it is a date mostly forgotten by citizens of our country. Last Sunday some media did cover Pearl Harbor Day while other media had more important things to do.
      My local daily newspaper did something odd, it presented December 7, 1941 from the viewpoint of the Japanese. What were their motivations and what do the Japanese think about the second world war? There was more but I shredded the newspaper and threw it in the trash.
      Seems those in charge of that newspaper did not serve in the military. It was a slap in the face of veterans, especially those who served in World War II. I lived three years in Japan and also have studied their culture. The article about how the Japanese view that conflict might have been interesting on the anniversary of V-J day which is the day Japan formally surrendered. But there was nothing else in the paper commemorating that Sunday morning 73 years earlier.
      Worse, it seems our society is at war with our military and the veterans. They give lip-service to loving our military but every financial cut is upon the military. Combat personnel are getting their pink-slips while in a theatre of war. Washington is cutting benefits for veterans while taking on more financial expense from people who come to our country without legal status.
      My buddy Charlie says that America is not at war: the military is at war, America is at the Mall. There is truth to that saying. We are reading that public schools are banning parents in military garb from dropping off or picking up students like something is wrong with being in the military. Read full column


Increased spending on teachers to come from unstable oil market money

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - The governor's announcement of new spending on teachers and classrooms will come out of new state tax revenues that depend heavily on oil and natural gas prices.
      Gas prices continue to drop – they were near $2 per gallon Wednesday in Albuquerque – and nobody knows where the bottom is.
      Oil supply is outstripping demand. West Texas crude, which is the type of oil southeast New Mexico produces, dropped to $60 a barrel at one point Wednesday, which means money from state severance taxes on oil is dropping too.
      You won't find anybody weeping about the low prices at the gas pumps. "It feels great; let's hope it lessens even more," said one man.
      "The bottom line is the market's getting better; the economy is getting better because I'm spending that extra money – whether it's eating out, or at the mall or buying a gun – now, that money's not going in my gas tank; I'm spending it somewhere else," said another local man.
      The bottom price for crude is still out of sight; it's hard for the oil industry to make sudden changes in production. Industry analysts expect it to keep growing well into next year and for prices to keep dropping. More

Bill would force state's attorney general to prosecute cops

From KOAT-TV.com - SANTA FE, N.M. —A new bill discussed by the Court, Corrections, and Justice Committee at the state capitol last week is turning some heads. The bill, which hasn't been officially filed, would make the attorney general of New Mexico prosecute charges against police officers instead of local or area district attorneys.
       The bill was spearheaded by Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson. Gibson reached out to state Rep. Gail Chasey (D) to help form and draft the bill some weeks ago. Chasey and Gibson share a precinct together.
       Since 2010, Albuquerque police have been involved with 27 fatal shootings. While some have produced civil settlements by the city, no officer has been indicted or charged. So far the bill is only four pages, and would put the attorney general in charge of prosecuting any state law enforcement officer charged with a violent felony, assault against a household member, abuse of a child or any crime for which registration under the sex offender registration and notification act is required.
       Opponents of the bill feel the attorney general’s office doesn't have the resources to prosecute such crimes. However, supporters disagree and feel not many officers are either prosecuted or investigated for criminal offenses statewide, producing a manageable caseload.  More

Obama revives ozone regs he once opposed for being too sevene a burden on economy

Commentary by Marita Noon - Within the bundle of more than 3,000 regulations lies a rule on ozone that President Obama himself in 2011 “put on ice” in effort to reduce “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.” Regarding the 2011 decision that shocked environmental groups, the New York Times recently stated: “At the time, Mr. Obama said the regulation would impose too severe a burden on industry and local governments at a time of economic distress.”
      So why is the rule back? First, Obama isn’t facing an election. More importantly, following the 2011 decision that struck down the proposed ozone rule, environmental groups sued the Obama administration. The resulting court order required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release the proposed rule by December 1, with finalization by October 2015.
      Once again, environmental groups-- which, on September 21, revealed that their true intention of changing the system (“capitalism is the disease, socialism is the cure”)-- have taken charge of America’s energy policy, and, therefore, economic policy. They have systematically chipped away America’s sources of economic strength: cost-effective energy.
      First they came after coal at a time when natural gas ran cheap and proponents touted it as the “bridge fuel” to the future. No one much spoke out. Some in the natural gas business even encouraged the war on coal, as it benefitted them. When I first heard that then-Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McLendon gave the Sierra Club $25 million to fight coal (it is reported that the Sierra Club turned down an additional $30 million), I remember yelling at the TV: “You fool! You will be next!”
      Within months, the Sierra Club launched its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign that claims: “Increasing reliance on natural gas displaces the market for clean energy and harms human health and the environment in places where production occurs.” A headline on the Beyond Natural Gas webpage describes that natural gas as: “Dirty, dangerous, and run amok.” Shortly thereafter, McLendon “agreed to retire.” Read full column