Las Cruces City Council Work Session Notes

News New Mexico summary of the Las Cruces City Council work session meeting held on Monday, October 25, 2010.

Item # 1 - Potential Partnership with Tresco concerned a presentation made by Tresco, a non-profit organization that specializes in employing the disabled and has more than 500 employees in the Las Cruces area. They provide many services to the disabled free of charge. They have contracts with several agencies and departments at White Sands Missile Range to perform contract janitorial and maintenance services. Seventy-five percent of their labor must be performed by the disabled. Their economic impact to the community is underscored by an annual payroll of $14 million. Each employed disabled person saves the community approximately $6,000 annually in reduced disability related benefits and services. Tresco has created its own community service organization, Action Club similar to Kiwanis, to provide community volunteer service. Tresco suggested the City could partner with them in four specific areas to improve employment opportunities for the disabled and potentially reduce costs for the City. These were:
a. Increase employment for disabled persons by contracting services with Tresco. Because it is a non-profit organization the City can contract with it without competitive bids at fair market value.
b. Provide opportunity within the City government for temporary employment
c. Provide opportunity for people with disabilities to volunteer with City Departments for community service projects which are often a pathway to regular employment.
d. Contract with the City to assist in after school programs for children with disabilities
· Councilor Silva wanted to know what kind of Hispanic outreach and training programs Tresco offered. He was informed that the have designated staff positions that are bilingual and offer training in specific needs areas
· Councilor Sorg liked the win/win scenarios at Tresco and wants to conduct further discussions about after school programs
· Councilor Thomas thinks that contacts with Tresco provide good learning experiences for both Tresco and the other employees.
· Mayor Miyagishima wanted to know whose Workers Comp covered Tresco employees. He was informed that Tresco had the primary responsibility. He wanted to know if Tresco had licensed (electricians, plumbers, etc) and was informed that they did and that Tresco looked for opportunities to find work for them. The Mayor also wanted additional information about Tresco’s role in after school programs and was informed that Tresco staff members could augment or supplement the City of Las Cruces staff and also conduct appropriate training for dealing with persons with disabilities.
Item # 2 – After School Program Update was presented by Mark Johnston. He said six schools and about 250 students are involved in this program. It conducts is activities in the cafeterias of the appropriate schools provided without cost to the City by the Las Cruces Public Schools. Students are selected by lottery and currently everyone who desired to participate has been accommodated. Parents pay $519 per year ($3.50 per day) for the program which runs from 2:30-5:30 pm on school days. The program is based on the “Beyond the Bell Curriculum” used in Southern California. It provides supervision and assistance with homework, teaches “go green concepts” and provides healthy nutritional snacks as part of the program. (Editorial comment: Now we provide students with “nutritional” breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at schools). It is essentially a low-cost baby setting service funded by the taxpayers and costs much less than similar private sector programs that cost on an average of $25 per day. Current annual costs are $147,000 but the program runs a 25% deficit because fees to participate in the program are insufficient to cover the actual costs. Mr. Johnston offered several options for the Council to consider for the next budget year.
a. Encourage Las Cruces Public Schools to become involved in the staffing of the program.
b. Increase the fee from $3.50 to $5.00 per day per participant. This money could be shared with LCPS to cover the additional staffing costs.
c. Reduce the number of participating schools
d. Reduce the part-time staff and reduce programs offered
e. He also stated he would rather add more supervision than increase participation.
· Councilor Thomas said we should consider charging more for the program and Las Cruces Public Schools should support the program Editorial Comment: Why should the LCPS fund this City of Las Cruces program and isn’t their role to educate them in the classroom? Also where would the money come from?
· Councilor Small also supports an increase in fees especially in light of the pending City budget cuts but wanted to know who would perform this service if it wasn’t the City. Mr. Johnston informed him that there are currently other private sector organizations providing similar programs (Boys & Girls Club, FYI, and others). He stated that this program was essential for low-income families that could not pay the higher costs for private after school child care.
· Councilor Connor asked what happens when school is on a half-day schedule or on holidays? She was informed that the program is not available on those days. She also asked if they had considered using senior volunteers to support the program? She was informed that they were working with the Munson Senior Center and with NMSU Engineering Department.
· Councilor Pedroza commented she was impressed with the educational component of the program but wondered if they had considered other staffing options such as College Service Unit Credits for students to earn college credits for volunteer work?
· Councilor Silva asked what are you looking for from the Council? Mr. Johnston stated that the needed budget support, a fee increase, and/or staff reductions. He stated he will have to cut the part-time programs first. He then added that with any fee increase there will be an initial decline in participation.
· Councilor Sorg commented that even with a fee increase this program was cheaper than child care. Editorial Comment: Again this begs the question “Why is the City involved in providing Child Care?”
· Mr. Johnston concluded the presentation.
Item #3 – School Safe Zones was presented by Information Technology Director, Don Bustamante. Mayor Miyagishima has requested the staff to look into creating “safe corridor or streets” for students walking home. The City is considering acquiring and installing cameras along selected streets for surveillance of student behavior. Mr. Bustamante informed the Council that the concept was technologically feasible and the cameras would cost approximately $4000 each for acquisition and installation. There are some infrastructure issues with one of the schools and there are no funds available for this program. Chief Williams also appeared before the Council and said that there is a LCPD officer at each middle school and high school. The Las Cruces Public Schools picks up half of the salary costs for these officers.
· Mayor Miyagishima suggested that perhaps El Paso Electric would consider donating the utility costs for these cameras.
· Councilor Connor commented that there are solar or battery cameras that could be purchased with would reduce the utility costs for the City. It was suggested the City consider using the Department of Justice “secure our schools” grants to fund this project. The problem is that this requires a 50% match and there are no funds available for this project.
Public Comment: As an exception to policy Mayor Miyagishima allowed Mr. James Carlyle, a musician who plays every Thursday for the dances at the Las Cruces County Club to address the Council. He requested that the City work with his group to find a replacement site since the Country Club will not be available. He suggested the Munson Senior center and stated that dancing is a great physical activity for seniors. Mayor Miyagishima directed Assistant City Manager Robert Garza meet with Mr. Carlyle to discuss it.

Old Stealing from Young under Obama's 'Reforms'

From the Cato Institute - by Gene Healy - Ridiculing the French is an obnoxious right-wing cliche that I thought I'd outgrown. But sometimes they make it so hard to resist. Right now, France is paralyzed by Greek-style anti-"austerity" protests, triggered by President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age — one of the lowest in Europe — all the way from 60 to 62. Across the West, aging populations have exposed the false promise of retirement schemes based on intergenerational transfer payments. By 2050, every French working couple will have to carry one retiree on their backs as France's public debt hits 337 percent of GDP. Sarkozy's plan thus looks like a modest gesture toward fiscal sanity. Yet the French masses see it as cause for torching cars and barricading streets. Sigh. Pass the "Freedom Fries." Most galling is the zeal with which French youth have joined the retirement-age riots. They're the ones who are going to pay the tab for a sclerotic entitlement state that eats its young. Yet by Monday, student protests had rocked some 300 schools, with French youths throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police in Paris suburbs. If there's a better example of misunderstanding your own class interests — what Marxists call "false consciousness" — I don't know what it is. On Thursday, just as French students hit the streets, U.S. President Barack Obama held an MTV "town hall" before a hand-picked student audience — part of his all-out effort to mobilize the youth vote for November. This gives rise to an important question: Are America's youth as dumb as the French? Read more


Three Wars, Little News: We’ve ignored the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mexico long enough.

From National Review online - by Victor Davis Hanson - It is a busy time in America. The Major League Baseball playoffs are competing with the upcoming midterm elections for the public’s attention. The rescue of courageous miners in Chile has for a time overshadowed even the latest psychodramas of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. There is endemic fear among Americans that continual $1 trillion–plus annual deficits and near–10 percent unemployment are about to destroy the vaunted American standard of living. Who has time to worry about much else?
That said, we have been sleeping through three major wars that will soon wake us up. This summer, Americans were dying in combat in Afghanistan at rates not seen since the summer of 2007 in Iraq. In congressional hearings that year, furious legislators grilled Gen. David Petraeus and cited the high number of monthly combat deaths to prematurely declare his surge a failure. ran ads calling Petraeus a traitor (“General Betray Us”) for continuing the war amid such losses. No such furor surrounds Afghanistan today. Yet more Americans have been killed so far this year in Afghanistan than during the entire six years of fighting there from 2001 through 2006. U.S. combat fatalities in Afghanistan in just the first 19 months of the Obama administration exceeded U.S. combat fatalities in Afghanistan in eight years under George W. Bush. Read more
Share/Bookmark Explains Youthful Exuberance

Warren Meyer runs the website and has been one of our early surface stations project volunteers, getting that famous photo of the climate monitoring weather station in the hot parking lot at the University of Arizona’s Atmospheric Sciences Department. He’s also produced a marvelous movie that defines the skeptic position. You can watch it on YouTube here.


Giddens is WAC Player Of The Week For Third Time

DENVER - New Mexico State senior outside hitter Kayleigh Giddens has been named Verizon Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for the week of Oct. 18-24. This is the third WAC Player of the Week honor of the season for Giddens and the fifth of her career. Giddens, from Lubbock, Texas (Frank Phillips JC), led New Mexico State to road wins over Nevada (3-1) and Utah State (3-0) last week. Giddens posted a match-high 23 kills with nine digs and three blocks in the win at Nevada. She then registered a match-high 17 kills with six digs and two blocks against Utah State. On the week, Giddens tallied 40 kills with a .303 attack percentage. She averaged 5.71 kills, 2.14 digs and 0.71 blocks per set over her two matches. There are now six matches where Giddens has marked at least 20 kills. She has posted double-digit kill figures in 19 of the Aggies' 24 matches this season. She also has seven double-doubles this season.

Presidential Shove?

From the Washington Times - PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Democratic candidate for Rhode Island governor, widely seen as more conservative than the independent seeking to lead the heavily Democratic state, said Monday that President Obama can "shove it" after learning Obama would not endorse him. Frank Caprio's campaign last week said he would welcome the president's endorsement. Read more here:

Analyzing the Endorsement Games

Rob Nikolewski
From - With Election Day looming, a number of newspapers around the state are coming out with their endorsements. Educated voters and readers know which way the respective editoral boards lean across the state: For example, the Albuquerque Journal opinion leaders lean right and the Santa Fe New Mexican leans left. In case you’re wondering how things are shaking out this fall, I compiled a list of endorsements from the Journal, the New Mexican, the Las Cruces Sun-News and the Taos News. The Taos News has a small circulation and is not published daily, but it produced a very thorough endorsement list so I included them. Read more here:

Share/Bookmark Calls Space Flight Danger to Climate

From - Climate change caused by black carbon, also known as soot, emitted during a decade of commercial space flight would be comparable to that from current global aviation, researchers estimate. The findings, reported in a paper in press in Geophysical Research Letters1, suggest that emissions from 1,000 private rocket launches a year would persist high in the stratosphere, potentially altering global atmospheric circulation and distributions of ozone. The simulations show that the changes to Earth's climate could increase polar surface temperatures by 1 °C, and reduce polar sea ice by 5–15%. Read more here:

"Going Back" to the Policies That Got Us Here Part I

Bill Clinton
Earlier this year President Obama railed against so-called “Fat Cats.” As the fall of 2010 campaign season winds down the president is warning voters not to make a choice that takes us "back" to the policies that led us into the financial crisis. Former President Clinton is also out on the campaign trail going from state to state and city to city echoing the same sentiments. It is time for an honest examination of history. How did we get to the point where Fat Cats could exploit our financial system on such a grand scale?
Robert Rubin
Ending Glass-Steagall - On November 12, 1999, President Clinton signed a bill into law that tore down critical financial system protections provided by the Glass-Steagall Act. The bill made it through Congress thanks to behind the scenes engineering by the former Goldman Sachs CEO and then Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin. Naturally, like most government folly, this ill-advised reversal of a policy that dated back to the Great Depression, was completed only after an army of clever lawyers successfully sold shell game-like arguments to elected officials. Our domestic depository banking institutions, these advocates argued… deserved more “fair” treatment so they could be able to operate more freely in already deregulated financial markets. Their general rationale was that distinctions between loans, securities, and deposits were already blurred. And they further asserted that our once mighty commercial banks were gradually losing market share to securities firms that were not so strictly regulated, as well as to foreign financial institutions operating without much restriction from the Act.
Byron Dorgan (D- ND)
Despite impassioned pleas on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and a handful of other Congressional leaders from both parties, it President Clinton and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin convinced congress to swallow this special interest bill hook, line, and sinker.
The great irony is Clinton naively suggested that the dangerous conflicts of interests created by the end of Glass-Steagall could be controlled by…… our government. By simply enforcing existing legislation that separated the lending and credit functions through the forming of “distinctly separate subsidiaries,” we were told by Clinton, Rubin, Senator Phil Gramm and others in both parties that our financial system could continue to function properly with commercial banks both underwriting and trading securities for their own accounts.
Lower Risks, Diversification, and Fairness - President Clinton and the majority of members of Congress reassured skeptical industry experts that the underwriting and securities trading activities that these depository banking institutions were seeking to engage in as part of the end of Glass-Steagall, were “low-risk.” It was further asserted that the end of Glass-Steagall would lead to the reduction of the total risk to federally-insured deposits thanks to the broad benefits of diversification. In the end, the clever lawyers resorted to an all-too-familiar version of law school 101…..a bamboozle strategy. Cloaking their arguments in the timeless virtue of “fairness,” they argued that Glass-Steagall had become a needless impediment that was keeping our banks from doing what nearly everyone else was doing.
Elected Officials and Mortgage Lending - Not long after the protections of Glass-Steagall were torn down, our campaign contribution driven system of government continued to bring the worst it has to offer to the foundations of sound lending practices. Caught in the historical video records in hearing after hearing were members of congress who, in the sorriest traditions of American-style politics, cloaked themselves in a heightened sense of “fairness.” Simply put, elected officials relentlessly pressured regulators of government sponsored entities (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) into allowing a dramatic loosening of mortgage underwriting standards. As a result, loan approvals became a entitlement payback from elected officials for many mortgage applicants. Regardless of their personal creditworthiness government sanctioned lenders flooded our system with sub-prime mortgages. Firms like Goldman Sachs began to understand how to take advantage of the folly using complex financial instruments. But in the end, even Goldman Sachs needed federal bailout money to re-capitalize and recharge its ailing balance sheet.


Police Convoy Attacked 3 Bystanders Dead

From the El Paso Times - CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico—Three bystanders died in the crossfire of a shootout between gunmen, police and soldiers in northern Mexico on Sunday. The victims were a 14-year-old boy and two women aged 18 and 47, according to a statement by the prosecutors' office in northern Coahuila state. The statement said gunmen traveling in two vehicles opened fire on a convoy of federal police and soldiers in the city of Saltillo, Coahuila. The officers and soldiers returned fire. It was not clear who fired the shots that killed the bystanders, but the state attorney general's office said it was investigating and expressed condolences to the victims' families. Read more here:


Hill: Penalize Hard Work and Playing by the Rules

Austin Hill
From - Profits at many American corporations are looking pretty good these days, yet companies aren’t hiring. Many American banks are flush with cash, yet they aren’t making many loans. And despite President Obama’s repeated promises that his “healthcare reform” legislation would “lower the cost of healthcare,” many health insurance providers are raising the premiums they charge their customers (some by as much as forty percent) as the new law is phased-in. So why, after nearly twenty-two months of President Obama “gettin’ people some help” (his folksy way of describing his interventions into the private sector economy), is the economy at a standstill, and in some instances getting worse? Because Obamanomics has put the economy in a state of uncertainty and chaos, and it penalizes hardworking, productive people who play by the rules. Read more here:


Phillips: Fed Up With TSA

Joseph Phillips
From - I arrived at the Los Angeles Airport more than an hour early. I had made good time on the highway. I wasn’t checking any bags, so with my boarding pass in hand I proceeded to the gate. I was greeted with a security line that was almost an hour long. The line snaked around the terminal, out the door, and stretched down the sidewalk. At the front of the line sat a lone Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) officer studiously checking identification with a jeweler’s loupe, the small magnifying glass jewelers use to look for flaws in gemstones.
It is little wonder that polls consistently find that the TSA is the most hated U.S. government agency, even more despised than the Internal Revenue Service. Americans believe that the TSA is rude, invasive, obnoxious, and dull-witted. Sure, there are good, honest, hard-working folks employed with the TSA; I have met some of them. However, I tend to share the negative assessment that airport security is not firing on all cylinders. Read more here: