City Council Meeting 9-13-10

Mayor Miyagishima was out of town and did not participate.
1. The pet of the week was presented. Pet adoption fee is $75 which includes neutering, shots, and implanting of a microchip
2. The US Corps of Engineers made a presentation on the ecosystem restoration and ancillary recreation of the 700 acres behind the Las Cruces flood control dam. The period 2006-2011 was the feasibility study period and cost $1.2 million. 2011-2013 will be the design and implementation phase estimated to be $2-3 million (depending on option and available funding).
· The goals for this project are to increase riparian and wetland habitat, Increase diversity of native vegetation, and decrease wind and water erosion. The goal of creating a sediment trap was removed as cost prohibitive. The plan will add cottonwood and willow trees and other native plants, grasses, and bulrushes.
· The Corps of Engineers recommended three plans. Two were considered “best buys” and one was considered cost effective. Option 2 would include arroyo enhancement and stabilization and cost $460,000. Option 9 would include everything in option 2 plus include a one acre wetland at a cost of $1.4 million. Option 4 (recommended option) included everything in options 2 and 9 plus enhancing the playas in three areas at a cost of $1.6 million.
· The recreation plan would add an information type kiosk at the North and South ends of the area, 2 wildlife viewing blinds (one near the T-Time property and the other behind the commercial development on the southern end of Roadrunner Parkway, enhanced trails system and 2 or 3 bridges over the drainage canals.
· Construction would tentatively begin in October 2011.
· The City would have to provide 25% matching funds which can be in-kind work or be funded through flood control funds. Additionally the City will have to acquire all the mineral rights within the property.
· All Councilors and Mike Johnson, Director of Public Works recommended option #4. No public input was allowed.
· Councilor Sorg supports option #4 and commended Nancy Stotts for all her work. He was concerned about the off road vehicles and wants their use prohibited. Additionally, he wants the City to impose upstream sediment trap plans. He claimed “Birding” is now the #1 sport in America and that it provides a $517 million economic impact to New Mexico and will bring economic prosperity to Las Cruces.
· Councilor Connor supports option #4 but wants the T-Time property included in the plan.
· Councilor Silva said he used that area 2-3 times a week and believes it should be considered our “central or Premier Park” and was concerned that option #4 did not go far enough because it did not include soccer fields. He opposes bicycles on the trails on top of the dam and wants to include equestrian access to the plan.
· Councilor Small also supports option 4 and wants to insure it maintains natural spaces.
· NOTE: No one discussed the impact of the increased traffic on Roadrunner Parkway or parking in the High Range Neighborhood as a result of the increased use of this area.
3. Video Relay Capabilities for the Hearing Impaired presentation was made By Software Firm NEXT TALK who wants to install multiple sign language interpreter programs and video relay services for the City because 8% of the US population does not speak English. It will be installed free for the City for one year. The City will have to purchase licenses @ $1200-2000 each and pay $4 per minute to use the system. The online interpreter will billed at $65 per hour. The software has been reviewed by the City Information Technology team and it was found to be in compliance with City standards. The staff recommended the software but admitted there is not much demand. They commented that if we purchase it and people become aware of it, it will be in high demand. The Council approved the study..
4. The Bus Stop signage was presented by City Public Services Director Lori Grumet. The City already has an approved and funded project to upgrade all the Bus Stop signs and now wants to assist the visually impaired by identifying all the Bus Stops with square sign poles. American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds are available. There are 255 sign poles that need to be retrofitted at a cost of $75 each.
· CC Connor wants the poles removed from any Bus Stop that has a shelter.
· Councilor Silva wanted to know if square poles are industry standard and was informed that there is no standard but only the recommendation of the Easter Seals Foundation which works on these issues. All the work will be contracted out. He also wanted to know how many of seeing impaired used the Bus system. He was informed that the City did not have a way of capturing that information. He was concerned that there are other areas that could be better served by ARRA dollars.
· Councilor Sorg wanted to know how a square pole helped identify it as a Bus Stop. He obviously had not been listening to the presentation because it had been clearly explained that seeing impaired individuals use their hands to feel the pole. He also questioned if this was the best use of ARRA funding and was informed it was funded under ARRA transit funds.
· Councilor Small wanted to know where the majority of Para-transit calls come from? Public Services Department is trying to develop a scatter diagram to reflect their calls. Para-transit calls cost approximately $20 each while standard bus costs are approximately $4 per rider.
· The Council agreed to install square poles
5. Burn Lake Phase II.
· $400,000 is available for phase II options.
· Option 1 would be to install lighting on the soccer fields at a cost between $350,000-$400,000 and would have budget impact for annual maintenance
· Option 2 would be a general park renovations that would add walking paths around the park, site furnishing, and trees..
· Option 3 concerned Regulating water level, installing reservoir pumps, and filtration systems to improve and control water quality. Total cost for this project exceed the funds available and would require additional State funding grants
Council Comments:
· Councilor Small questioned if lighting the soccer fields shouldn’t be a higher priority. Consolidation of agencies but recommended option #2 due to return on investment considerations and it is a better strategy to obtain State funds for the follow-on option #3.
· Councilor Pedroza thinks the project should proceed with option 3 first because “bodies of water make it attractive to the public which will increase their use of the park”
· Councilor Connor wanted to know if the El Molino drainage project (flood control and discharge into Burn Lake) included the cost of the spillway. Asst City Manger Garza said it did. The spillway will also provide filtration. Burn Lake is #2 on the City priority list at a cost of $3.4 million. She recommended Option #2 because it shows the State we are working to improve Burn Lake
· Councilor Sorg wants solar panels installed in the parking lot to provide lighting to the fields even though he isn’t sure it will be cost effective.
· Mayor Pro Tem Thomas personally prefers option #1 but reluctantly supports option #2 because it is best for the public
· Councilor Silva supports option #1 to install the soccer field lighting first and wants a cost benefit analysis for each option before it comes back to the Council
· Director Denmark said he would rather have more fields in the City than lighting the fields at Burn Lake. He stated that the City could use park impact fees to add lights to new parks but not Burn Lake. Reinstallation of lights could be accomplished through the City’s sinking fund account. Elephant Butte Irrigation will provide “pass through water” for recreational purposes. State Representative Gutierrez was working with the City to get funding to support increasing the water level and quality in Burn Lake. The request is due March 2011 and hopefully available in July 2011
· Option 2 was approved by a vote of 5-1.
6. City Public Works Director Mike Johnson gave a presentation on ADA improvements in the Downtown revitalization project. Total upgrades will cost approximately $990,000 and many of them will be accomplished in conjunction with other improvements projects. Water Street ($375,000) and Church Street ($150,000) will be on hold until the streets are changed back to 2-way traffic. The City can also use TIDD funds for projects within the TIDD. Additionally the City is applying for Tiger II funds. The City currently does not have an inventory of the ADA needs of the City.
· Councilor Sorg believes the TIDD should be the appropriate funding source
· Councilor Connor doesn’t want the City to use State MAP or Co-op funds for downtown ADA improvements because it has other funding sources. Districts 2-3-4 do not have any other funding sources and should have priority on the MAP/Co-op funds for their ADA projects.
· Councilor Pedroza agreed with Councilor Connor
· Councilor Silva was concerned that the ADA projects in his district have not been completed. Solano Street still needs to be completed from Cactus to N.Main. He recommended the City establish and follow a priority list.
7. The meeting was called to recess at 4:35 pm.


Wisdom of Stephen Covey and Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger
Dr. Stephen Covery
News New Mexico has created a new "Wit and Wisdom" page (above right). Site visitors are encouraged to visit this area and use the information as a resource. The twenty-five human psychological tendencies identified by Charles T. Munger and the eight habits of highly effective people noted by Dr. Stephen Covey are listed and discussed briefly on the page.


Teague Mum on Wilderness Proposal During Visit

Harry Teague
From the El Paso Times - LAS CRUCES -- Building up security and adding law enforcement to the region will continue to keep the El Paso and New Mexico borders safe, U.S. Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M, said Saturday during a tour of the area. "Nothing takes the place of boots on the ground," Teague said. "To have that other 1,000 (agents) going into training and going to be made available, I think that's the best thing that we can do to make our citizens safe and their property secure." Violence in Mexico, particularly in Juárez, is continuing to escalate. More than 2,100 people in Juárez have been killed this year alone.
Teague credits the relative calm on this side of the border to the efforts of the Border Patrol and other U.S. law enforcement agencies. "I guess it's respect for our law enforcement agencies over here that's keeping that from spilling over," he said. "That's why it's very important that we continue to get the assets to the Border Patrol that they need to protect us." Read more here: 
Note - There is no mention on the Teague website of his stance on the S.1689 -- Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act


Bitner Named WAC Defensive Player Of The Week

DENVER, CO - New Mexico State’s Mikaela Bitner has been named the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the week of September 6th-12th. Bitner, a redshirt freshman goalkeeper from Albuquerque, N.M. (Sandia HS), anchored the NM State defense in a 1-0 shutout victory over North Dakota on Friday night. "She deserves it, she's done an outstanding job for us in the goal," said head coach Michael Needham. "She's made some really big saves at big times for us and all-in-all she's done an exceptional job to this point."
Mikaela Bitner
Bitner recorded a season-high nine saves in the game against the Fighting Sioux and on the season has .892 save percentage and is allowing 0.72 goals per game en route to helping the Aggies post a 3-1-2 record through six games in the 2010 season. This is the first Player of the Week award for Bitner and the second of the 2010 season for the Aggies as Yolanda McMillion was named Offensive Player of the Week last week. Bitner is replacing Katie Graul, a first team all-WAC goalkeeper who graduated after her only season as an Aggie. NMSU stays at home this week to host Alabama A&M on Friday, and Lamar on Sunday at Aggie Memorial Stadium.


Boehner Won't Vote Against Middle-Class Tax Cuts

John Boehner (R- OH)
From Bloomberg - U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner said he would vote for middle-class tax cuts sought by the Democratic Obama administration even if it means eliminating reductions for wealthier Americans. Boehner would support extending tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year “if that’s what we can get done, but I think that’s bad policy,” he said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for it.”
Read more here:

Herrera Digs In

Mary Herrera
From the New Mexico Independent - Secretary of State Mary Herrera declined to respond to allegations made by three of her former staff members in an interview with The Independent on Friday, saying she hadn’t seen “the exact allegations. I haven’t seen what they’re claiming. I would be interested to see it,” Herrera told me during a minutes-long phone interview. ”I know it’s not true.” By now, the allegations made by Herrera’s former elections director A.J. Salazar, former office manager Manny Vildasol and former communications director James Flores are well known to those following the Secretary of State’s office and this year’s election race. Salazar, Flores and Vildasol, who all have gone to the FBI to allege wrongdoing in her office, have alleged that employees were forced to solicit “sponsorships or donations” from businesses that contract with the state to possible kickbacks on contracts and having office employees campaign for Herrera on state time. Read more here:

Doan - President Obama's Small Business Sham

President Obama on Golf Course
By Lurita Doan for Townhall - President Obama's recent plan for small business job creation is on shaky ground. Obama is relying on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist with loans and small business contracting, but reports show that the SBA has organization and leadership problems. The Partnership for Public Service's 2010 survey of Best Places to Work In The Federal Government shows SBA ranked fourth from the bottom. SBA ranked near the bottom in areas of leadership, teamwork, training and mission match. Yet, SBA ranked near the top in the area of employee compensation. Management experts could tell Obama that relying too heavily on an organization already failing in leadership, teamwork and mission is a recipe for disaster. No wonder morale is low. Read more here:

Gary Ward to Appear on News NM Tuesday

Gary Ward
Virtually hidden within the confines of the NMSU athletic department is Big 8 Conference coaching legend and coaching Hall of Fame member, Gary Ward. No doubt nearly every sports fan in Nebraska and Oklahoma is aware of Ward’s remarkable accomplishments. News New Mexico has known Ward for many years. Few people know that Gary Ward is an NMSU graduate. In the early 1960’s he played two sports (basketball and baseball) for Presley Askew. He left Las Cruces for Prescott, Arizona decades ago to start a baseball program from scratch. Quickly, Ward built a national junior college championship program out of thin air. A native of Oklahoma, Gary next returned to Stillwater and Oklahoma State University. At OSU Gary won an astonishing sixteen consecutive Big 8 baseball championships. His teams appeared in the NCAA’s College Baseball World Series for ten straight seasons. Ward is clearly the most accomplished athletic program builder to ever graduate from NMSU and later return to this area.
Rocky Ward
Since his return to Las Cruces, Gary has worked hand-in-hand with son Rocky, first as head coach, and now as his assistant. Together the father and son team has transformed NMSU baseball from virtual obscurity to a prominent national presence. Over the years Gary Ward’s mentoring has paid off. Rocky Ward has racked up the most wins of any baseball coach in NMSU history. Just three seasons ago the Aggie baseball program swept a double header from eventual national champion Fresno State. Gary Ward has coached dozens of major league players including Robin Ventura and Pete Incaviglia. Besides understanding the intricacies associated with athletic success, Gary is a highly sought after public speaker. A well-spoken and articulate individual, Ward is one of the most engaging individuals we have ever met. We look forward to his first appearance on News New Mexico tomorrow from 7:30 - 8:30am.


Slow, Slower, Slowest

From Bloomberg - The U.S. economy will slow more than previously estimated through next year as elevated unemployment tempers consumer spending and companies trim investment plans, economists surveyed by Bloomberg News said. The world’s largest economy will grow an average 2.5 percent in 2011, less than the 2.8 percent projected last month and slower than an estimated 2.7 percent this year, according to the median of 59 forecasts in the survey taken Sept. 1 through Sept. 9. Analysts also expect household purchases will cool and the jobless rate will hold above 9 percent. Read more here:

Murdoch - Stimulus Fails: US Impoverished, Jobless

Deroy Murdoch
For all of this week's talk about President Obama's "second stimulus," why do so many Americans feel less stimulated than chafed? The parade of stimuli that President George W. Bush launched and the "stimulator in chief" has accelerated has left America impoverished, indebted, and increasingly jobless. And now, Obama wants more. Obama unveiled an attractive item or two while attempting to defibrillate the dreary economy and Democrats' dismal electoral prospects. Supply-siders long have wanted to scrap the depreciation tables and let businesses immediately deduct capital purchases. Too bad Obama wants to permit this tax-and-simplification benefit for only one year. Perhaps seeking the Nobel Prize in alliteration, Obama Tuesday proposed $50 billion for "Roads, Rails, and Runways." This plan supposedly will help some of America's 14.9 million unemployed citizens.However, that expenditure would span six years, despite the touted "shovel readiness" of public-works projects. Even if one applauds such spending, shouldn't it happen right now?
What about Obama's previous magnum opus? In February 2009, he signed a $787 billion stimulus that has swelled to $814 billion. The Congressional Budget Office on Aug. 24 estimated that this measure "created or saved" between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs while spending, so far, about 70 percent of this money. Assuming the rosiest scenario, these $570 billion created 3.3 million jobs at a stunning $172,727 each. Paradoxically, these alleged jobs have grown even as jobs have disappeared. Read more here:


Here's a Realistic Solution - Work Less Get More Benefits

Shorter working hours—the roses of “Bread and Roses” fame—are part of a long and progressive American tradition. A famous Dorothea Lange photo from 1937 shows a National Association of Manufacturers billboard on a hardware store. It reads: WORLD’S SHORTEST WORKING HOURS—THERE’S NO WAY LIKE THE AMERICAN WAY! A bill passed the U.S. Senate in 1933 that would have made the official workweek only thirty hours long. Presidents from FDR to Richard Nixon called for reducing working hours. In our time, feminist and women’s groups, including and the National Partnership for Women and Families, have led the way in promoting work-life balance policies, demanding paid family leave, paid sick days, and flexible hours. Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida has introduced a bill calling for mandatory paid vacations, guaranteed by law in almost every country.
The United States joins Burma and a handful of others that don’t offer this basic benefit.. . . . We seem faced with a choice between environmental disaster or massive unemployment. Unless, of course, we slow down by reducing working hours and sharing the work. Half a century of economic growth has not increased our happiness. More free time might well do so. It will certainly improve our health. Read more here:


John Zimmerman to Appear on NewsNM Tuesday

John Zimmerman
John Zimmerman a candidate for Dona Ana County Commissioner will appear on News New Mexico from 8:30 - 9:00am Tuesday. Zimmerman and his wife Mary have six children, ten grandchildren. They are actively involved with their family, volunteering in the community and being active in their church. After a six-year enlistment in the U.S. Navy, John moved to Las Cruces and enrolled at NMSU. While attending the university, he joined the Navy Reserve and worked at White Sands Missile Range as a Missile Test Engineer. As an engineer, John's duties included the oversight of the annual multi-million dollar budgets and the direction and orchestration of Smart Submunitions, missile and rocket testing, working at WSMR for 32 years.


Can't Afford Tax Cuts - We Are Borrowing For These

From Citizens Against Government Waste - The headliners for 2010 PORK AWARDS meet one of these seven critieria: Requested by only one chamber of Congress, Not specifically authorized, Not competitively awarded, Not requested by the President, Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding, Not the subject of congressional hearings, Serves only a local or special interest.
The Dunder-head Mifflin Award - to Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) for $200,000 for design and construction of a small business incubator and multipurpose center in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Thad the Impaler Award - to Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) for $490 million in pork.
The Hal Bent on Earmarking Award - to Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Ky.) for $10 million for the National Institute for Hometown Security. The Little Engine That Couldn’t Award - for $465 million for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine. The Narcissist Award  - to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) for $7,287,000 to continue the Harkin Grant program and to Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) for $7,000,000 for the Robert C. Byrd Institute of Advanced Flexible Manufacturing Systems. The Steak Through the Heart of Taxpayers Award - to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Representative Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) for $693,000 for beef improvement research. The Sapping the Taxpayers Award - for $4.8 million for wood utilization research in 11 states requested by 13 senators and 10 representatives.
The Jekyll and Hyde Award - to Representative Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) for his ever-changing stance on earmarks; first signing a no-earmark pledge, then receiving $21 million in earmarks, then supporting the Republican earmark moratorium. The Kick in the Asp Award - to Delegate Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) for $500,000 for Brown Tree Snakes control and interdiction in Guam. The Plane Waste Award - to Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) for $3,500,000 for the National Institute for Aviation Research. The Do You Want Fries with That Award - for $2,573,000 in potato research in four states requested by five senators and five representatives. The Putting on the Pork Award - to Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) for $400,000 for restoration and renovation of the historic Ritz Theater in Newburgh, N.Y. The Lights! Camera! Earmark! Award - for Representative Diane Watson (D-Calif.) for $100,000 for career exploration and training for at-risk youths for jobs in filmmaking at the Duke Media Foundation in Hollywood. The An Earmark Grows in Brooklyn Award - to Representative Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) for $400,000 for construction and renovation for safety improvements at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It just goes on and on and on and on and on.............................................


“The Perils of Hatred”

Kristi and I marvel at the circumstances surrounding the nine-year anniversary of 9-11. Each year since 2001, in early September, there are many releases of new documentary programs on the subject of 9-11. Generally speaking, the latest documentaries shed a bit of new light on radical Islam. However, many simply rehash all the warnings signs during the years, months, and days leading up to that fateful day.
Since shortly after 9-11, the tone of the debate on what to do about radical Islam headed down an illogical path. And while we long for the return of basic logic and intellectual honesty in the political discourse of our country, we become ever more irritated when we encounter openly partisan editorials on the subject of radical Islam. For many of these carelessly worded commentaries, are, in reality, merely thinly veiled pieces of partisan propaganda. The use silly semantics games to question the dangers posed by radical Islam are shameless. And often this sort of propaganda attempts to convince the reader that the movement of radical Islam, which is based on the advocating of mass murder, should not be the greatest security concern of the entire world. It is an inescapable fact that the masses in Palestine and in most Islamic countries “celebrated” the events of 9-11. And it is also inescapable that all the murderers involved in 9-11 were practitioners of radical Islam.
Osama Bin Laden
From a tactical standpoint, President Obama and his advisors have two basic military options for radical Islam. First, the administration can simply remove U.S. troops from the Middle East. Second, the U.S. can continue to engage the forces of radical Islam, particularly in Afghanistan. As time passes it is becoming clear that the interpretation of intelligence on radical Islam that is being received in the Oval Office of the Obama White House is very similar to the interpretations made by the Bush White House. Hence we see an escalation of the troop involvement in Afghanistan to take the fight directly to the headquarters of radical Islam. All Americans should recognize that even if there was no more U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, there would still be a very difficult problem to solve where radical Islam is concerned.
What should be done by civilized countries all around the world about the worldwide threat of radical Islam? It is our hope that at some point the quality of the discourse on this most pressing problem will move beyond the visceral blind and partisan-obsessed “hatred” of warring domestic political opponents. Hatred prevents any realistic discussions of the various merits and drawbacks of various longer term solutions to the threat of radical Islam. The evidence that hatred for George W. Bush retarded the process of problem-solving with radical Islam has become obvious. Often it has been suggested by Bush-haters that the nasty problem with radical Islam was simply all Bush’s fault. In fact, even when Bush-hating partisans were reminded of the weight of the long history of evidence on radical Islam, which includes; mass murders at the Olympics at Munich in 1972, hostage taking at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, the murder of 250 peace-keeping U.S. Marines in Beirut during the 1980’s, mass murder over Lockerbie, Scotland, countless hijack killings, the deadly World Trade Center bombing of 1993, the U.S.S. Cole bombing, the deadly nightclub explosion in Bali, train bombings in London and then again in Spain in 2005, the most recent murder plot foiled by Scotland Yard on August 10, 2006 (which hoped to blow up as many as ten loaded passenger jets leaving London with liquid explosives), and of course the nearly 3,000 murders on 9-11, a Bush-hating partisan could still somehow, remain relatively comfortable in denying that there actually was an overwhelming threat to world peace that is posed by radical Islam.
The first step to gaining a feel for why it was so difficult for Bush-haters to concede the reality of the “external threat” is because real external threats have always had a strengthening effect on incumbent leaders throughout history. And politically speaking, it is an undeniable truth that in a philosophically divided nation, George W. Bush derived virtually all of his resurgence of political support amongst independents immediately AFTER radical Islam attacked America on 9-11. There can be little doubt that this horrible “external threat” posed by radical Islam helped Bush more than any other single factor, to become a two-term president. With this psychological backdrop in mind, it is easier to understand why for the Bush-hating partisans, 9-11 is particularly painful “political event.” And accordingly, for Bush-haters to actually admit that 9-11 is still the defining moment of 21st century history would require a concession that America actually had a real enemy that Bush had to fight. Reluctantly one must conclude that even the basic “premise” that radical Islam is a threat, created an idea pathway that no Bush-hating partisan wanted to start down.
President Bush 2005 Inaugural Parade
Fast-forwarding to the present, with President Obama as Commander and Chief, the “communications interception tactics,” (like those used by Scotland Yard to thwart the plane bombings in London four years ago) have continued. And they have continued with far less objections from the ACLU and other Bush-haters. This is good news for national security. Earlier this week President Obama said he admired President Bush for reminding people of who America’s "real enemy" is (al Queada - radical Islam). Unfortunately a few distractions to clarity remain. All of the hoopla about the Ground Zero Mosque and the idiot pastor that wants to burn Qurans, is not good news for moving the threat of radical Islam beyond the partisan realm.
President Obama and General David Petraeus
At some point, and regardless of political leanings, all citizens must face the reality that radical Islam is like an inoperable cancer that still grows on the body we call the human race. There is no question that the acts of organized hatred that radical Islam is sworn to perpetuate, are dangerous to the freedoms of all civilized societies. And so it is on the 9th anniversary of 9-11 that we reach the conclusion that the very process of engaging in “hatred,” whether it is partisan, religious, or some other form, will always cloud the judgments of any human being. Citizens who swear allegiance to best practices and never support dumb ideas or engage in illogical denials of facts based on party considerations are a precious commodity.


Kathryn Lopez - Vanity

Kathryn Lopez
If Carly Simon were a conservative, she might be writing, "You're so vain, you probably think this White House is below you," to accompany the next big tea party rally. Some of those who try to make some sense -- or science -- of politics for a living have been scratching their heads about President Obama lately. There was the ostentatious vacation, followed by the apparent boredom with the Iraq address that he didn't even have to give, and certainly not in the way that he did -- as a formal, primetime, Oval Office event. There was the wading (botched and incoherent) into the Ground Zero mosque debate. There is the constant belittling of his Republican critics, lowering the office of the president to attack the largely unknown House minority leader, John Boehner. If you were a White House political strategist, you might be bewildered and dismayed, never mind stressed. If you are a Democrat in the unfortunate position of running for re-election, you're running far away from wherever the commander in chief is, to the best of your ability -- and your integrity, if that's of concern to you. In short, none of this has proven to be smart politics, certainly not in the short term, at a time when the Democrats are sinking and could use a leader to lift them up -- or at least not make it worse. Read more here:

Border Patrol Agents Come Under Fire

From The Monitor - MISSION — U.S. Border Patrol agents here faced gunfire from south of the Rio Grande on Saturday morning. Agents patrolling the river discovered and seized more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana. A vehicle then appeared on the Mexican side and someone began firing shots at the agency’s boat unit on the river, said Border Patrol spokeswoman Rosie Huey. “The agents returned fire as they were leaving to get out of the area,” she said. No injuries were reported, and the FBI is looking into the incident.

Herrera a Ball and Chain

Mary Herrera
From the New Mexico Independent - First-term Democratic Secretary of State Mary Herrera is giving some New Mexico Democrats heartburn with as the Nov. 2 election election approaches. Whether Democrats like it or not, the embattled Herrera is on the ballot. The deadline for replacing a candidate on the ballot passed last week — Sept. 7 — according to state law. Herrera, the state’s top elections official, is in the political fight of her life. She stands publicly accused of wrongdoing by three former employees, two of whom have threatened to sue her under the state’s whistle-blower act. Adding to her woes is the worsening of her sometimes-acrimonious relationship with some of the state’s 33 county clerks, one of whom – Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza, a Democrat – has come out publicly to endorse Herrera’s Republican opponent, state Sen. Dianna Duran. A public airing of dirty laundry, and what appears to be a full-blown mutiny, is rare for any public official. But during election time it’s startling, leading one long-time observer to say the GOP is in the best position to wrest the statewide office from Democrats for the first time in 80 years.
Dianna Duran
Perhaps then it came as no surprise when there were rumblings recently that some in the Democratic party leadership had asked Herrera, a former Bernalillo County clerk, to consider stepping aside — or at least let the state party take charge of her campaign. Gov. Bill Richardson declined twice Friday to respond to The Independent’s question if he or a representative had approached Herrera to talk about stepping down. Read more here:


Presidential Press Conference Notes

Jon Ward
President Obama agrees that economic uncertainty is bad, but not the kind that conservatives are worried about. He showed surprisingly strong emotions when attacking the Florida pastor with plans to burn the Koran. And the president’s advisers really didn’t like the question from Fox News. Here are the five most interesting things from Obama’s Friday White House press conference, the eighth of his presidency. Read more here: