Woman indicted for helping foreign nationals obtain fraudulent licenses

From KOB-TV.com - By: Charlie Pabst, KOB.com - An Albuquerque woman is indicted on more than 300 counts of creating fake residency documents for foreign nationals so they could get New Mexico driver's licenses. An indictment alleges 45-year-old Ana Hernandez signed the documents using different names and notarized the signatures. Investigators say Hernandez helped 29 people get driver's licenses by using her previous business address on Central for their residential address. A check of court records shows she is currently out on a $25,000 bond stemming from a May arrest related to drug charges. Read More

Pearce is cruising toward re-election

From NM Politics.net - by Heath Haussamen - U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., appears, at least at this point, to be cruising toward re-election. Pearce currently has no challenger except a little-known candidate from Roswell, even though Washington expects serious challengers to incumbents to already be raising money. The latest potential challenger to bite the dust is Sunland Park Mayor Martin Resendiz, a Democrat who the Albuquerque Journal reported this morning admitted during a deposition to signing city contracts while he was drunk – and to not even knowing what he was signing. That’s not going to earn him any points with voters in the 2nd Congressional District. Resendiz told NMPolitics.net in early May that he would officially form an exploratory committee the following week, but said it was a formality and that his decision to run for Congress “has already been made.” Since then, we’ve heard nothing from him about running against Pearce. Read more

Jerome Block, Jr. faces questions on gas card and more

From Capitol Report New Mexico.com - It’s been a rocky few days for Jerome Block Jr. — not that the last few years have been smooth sailing for the Public Regulation Commission member who seems to attract controversy on a regular basis. On Thursday (Aug. 4), the intrigue rose to a new level as state workers outside the Public Employees Retirement Association Building were treated to the sight of investigators cracking open Block’s Dodge Durango as allegations swirled that Block had been fraudulently using a state gas card. a report from Gadi Schwartz of KOB-TV on Thursday said that a string of suspicious charges had been put on Block’s state gas account between January and May, totalling about $4,000 — about twice as much as any other member of the PRC racked up despite the fact that Block lives closer to the PRC offices in Santa Fe than any other member of the commission:On May 6 of this year, Block’s PIN and a PRC gas card were used to buy $29 of unleaded at a Conoco in Espanola. Nine minutes later, $40 was charged on the card for unleaded plus. Two hours after that, another charge at the same gas station for $80.92. Similar charges took place at almost a dozen gas stations. Block said Thursday, “I wouldn’t abuse state property or abuse a position that people have entrusted me to do that.” He says someone else must have made those charges. Read more

Dow falls 512 in steepest decline since '08 crisis

From the Santa Fe New Mexican.com - NEW YORK (AP) — Gripped by fear of a new recession, Wall Street suffered its worst day Thursday since the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. The firestorm of selling that erased more than 500 points off the Dow Jones industrial average then spread overseas. The sell-off wiped out the Dow's remaining gains for 2011. It put the Dow and broader stock indexes into what investors call a correction — down 10 percent from their highs in the spring. In Friday trading in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average was down more than 3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 4 percent. "We are continuing to be bombarded by worries about the global economy," said Bill Stone, the chief investment strategist for PNC Financial. Across the financial markets, the day was reminiscent of the wild swings that defined the financial crisis in September and October three years ago. Gold prices briefly hit a record high. Oil fell even more than stocks — 6 percent, or $5.30 a barrel. And frightened investors were so desperate to get into some government bonds that they were willing accept almost no return on their money. It was the most alarming day yet in the almost uninterrupted selling that has swept Wall Street for two weeks. The Dow has lost more than 1,300 points, or 10.5 percent. By one broad measure kept by Dow Jones, almost $1.9 trillion in market value has disappeared. For the day, the Dow closed down 512.76 points, at 11,383.68. It was the steepest point decline since Dec. 1, 2008. Read more

Farmington Bench donated by local family honors National Guardsmen

From the Farmington Daily Times - A local Farmington family is doing its part to honor New Mexico veterans. The family of Steve and Diana Rogge helped honor the New Mexico National Guard with a bench at the All-Veterans Plaza in Farmington. While the plaza was designed to honor all New Mexico veterans, it fails to recognize National Guard veterans. Donor Diana Rogge said it is important to her family that all branches of the military are equally honored. "We thought it was a disservice that they have nothing to honor them." Master Sgt. Louie Estrada said it was a great feeling when he found out the Rogge family wanted to honor the National Guard. "I have been in the National Guard for 20 years and I have never seen civilians go out of their way like this," Estrada said. Rogge said her family purchased the bench to match the rest of the benches in the All-Veterans Plaza with the approval of the city of Farmington. The bench was installed, with a dedication ceremony to follow this fall. The dedication ceremony will be informal, Estrada said. Read more

Swickard: Column - Dreams of generations in a new century

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Most people in America today cannot remember where they were when the dreams died. This includes me. What dreams? Over the last few decades America has not had dynamic proactive dreams for young people to follow. I know I am painting with a broad brush and exceptions can be found. However, from my time in school to now we have gone from a country focused on achievement to one that is most concerned with getting more than they give. Only chumps give more than they get. As a generation this group of kids does not think about going to the moon. Our young people today do not seem to represent any dream. With the retirement of the Space Shuttles and nothing really on the horizon in space we are not giving our young any dreams to lift them up. So very sad. Read column

ICE agents confiscate 34,500 rounds from El Paso pawn shop

From the El Paso Times - At least 34,500 rounds of assault-caliber ammunition were seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as part of an undercover ammunition smuggling investigation, resulting in a raid on a Downtown pawn shop. Federal authorities say the seizure is expected to be the largest in El Paso's history -- once agents sort through the evidence. The owner of Geneva Loan and Jewelry Co., 222 S. El Paso on the corner of Overland and El Paso streets, and five employees allegedly sold and repackaged all 34,500 rounds, along with 180 large-capacity magazines, to undercover ICE agents, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas. The repackaging was designed to make the rounds easier to smuggle across the border. Read more

Sports: Chad Roanhaus calling Clovis home again

From the Clovis News Journal - Chad Roanhaus is back in the Wildcat fold. Roanhaus, who turned 36 in July, has been a head coach at the high school level and college level in Las Vegas, N.M. He went 42-21 in five seasons at Robertson High with three straight Class 3A title appearances and two titles. He resigned from New Mexico Highlands, where he also played quarterback, after compiling a 5-28 record in three seasons. He joins his father, longtime coach Eric Roanhaus, and many of his former coaches and teammates on the Wildcat sidelines as offensive coordinator. It’s his second stint as a Wildcat assistant, as he was a junior varsity coach in 2000. He also played quarterback for the Wildcats and was part of a 1991 state championship and 1993 state runner-up teams. Read more

Carlsbad: Lack of local officials puts games in danger

From the Carlsbad Current-Argus.com - CARLSBAD - With summer winding down, local athletes, coaches and parents can all look forward to school sports seasons starting up. Excuse the local referees, however, if they are not so eager. Mike Thompson, group leader of Carlsbad's basketball officials, expects to lose one to three local referees this season, which would bring the group's size down to 10-12. In the "worst case" scenario of trying to cover the season with only 10 officials, Thompson said approximately 10 lower-level games could be cancelled due to their inability to cover them. Carlsbad is losing referees to work related conflicts, injuries and age. At age 48, Thompson is still one of the youngest local basketball officials and can cite at least seven current injuries he is dealing with - after the offseason. After him there is a big drop off in age down to Michael Barnhart, 27, the only new referee willing to join the crew last year. Even if they do make it through this season without any cancellations the situation won't get any better because the group isn't getting any younger. With the crew's average age reaching into the 50's it is only a matter of time before they see drastic turnover. Thompson can only hope there are new, younger officials to turnover to when that time comes. Read more

iPad not part of tax holiday time

From the Alamogordo Daily News.com - By Barry Massey, Associated Press Writer - Shoppers looking for a new laptop computer can buy it tax-free this weekend in New Mexico, but those hoping for tax savings on a tablet computer like Apple's iPad are out of luck. Tablet devices like the highly popular iPad remain subject to taxation under the state's annual tax holiday, which starts Friday and runs through Sunday. That tax treatment likely will change next year, however. Taxation and Revenue Deputy Secretary John Monforte said Wednesday the agency is revising the regulations for New Mexico's tax holiday because they haven't kept pace with changes in technology, such as tablets like the iPad that have computer functions. Those revamped regulations should be in place for next year's tax holiday, he said. The tax holiday is intended to help shoppers with school-age children, but it's not limited to them. Anyone can benefit if they buy covered items at a retailer participating in the tax-relief program. Read more

Harbison: The Odds Are Against You

Jim Harbison
If you attended Monday’s Las Cruces City Council meeting it was clearly obvious that the odds do not favor jobs, business, or the citizens. The City Council imposed impact fees on new construction at a time when building trade jobs continue to disappear and their unemployment continues to rise. Even though the opponents of impact fees outnumbered the proponents by about 50 to 1 the Council chose to ignore the will of the people and implemented additional job killing impact fees.
Las Cruces City Hall
 When building trades jobs disappear other businesses are adversely affected. The restaurants have fewer customers and lay off waiters and cooks. Retail establishments sell fewer goods and are forced to reduce both staff and inventory. When inventory is reduced other businesses have to reduce production staff and the vicious cycle continues its downward spiral.

Unemployment is destructive for workers and their families. They struggle to provide food, clothing and housing for their families and are reduced to surviving on various forms of public assistance. Since they have limited income their spending habits change which negatively impacts other local businesses. For more than two years we have heard from all levels of government that their most important concern is job creation. And yet local governments continue to impose every possible constraint to successful job creation. They continue to pass ordinances that constrain, restrict, or prohibit business development and job creation. And yet they wonder why the gross receipts tax revenue is declining or why large businesses choose to locate their operations and jobs in other cities.
These new impact fees will add more than $600,000 to the cost of a Wal-Mart sized store or business. Why would HP, Intel, or a “green” industry want to expand their business in Las Cruces? For the small business owner the impact fees will add approximately $30,000 to the costs of a 10,000 square foot building. In each case long term financing will substantially increases their cost. According to a prominent local developer these impact fees will increase the average new apartment rental by $20 per month.
The Mayor claimed that the fees would only add a few dollars each month to the cost of a new home and that there would be significant insurance savings from improved fire protection and flood control. These statements were refuted by members of the public who deal with investment financing every day and truly understand amortization costs. One Councilor made the comment that we do not need more housing or commercial space and that realtors and developers should go find “green” jobs - how insulting to their professions.
The arrogance and ignorance of this City Council is appalling. Apparently the Council fails to understand that impact fees are only collected from new construction and when you halt new construction you halt collection of impact fees. It doesn’t matter what the public wants because this Council believes the public is ignorant and they know what is best for us even if we don’t recognize it. Their progressive agenda prevents growth in Las Cruces and severely limit its citizens from ever improving their economic situation. It also unfortunately forces citizens to become economically dependent on the benevolence of the City Council.
A truly benevolent City Council would go out of its way to improve the employment opportunities within the City rather than discouraging them. It’s time to elect a new City Council and Mayor who will genuinely be concerned about the economic prosperity and the general well being of the citizens rather than protecting their special interest groups and pet projects.


Spence Screws Up on DWI

Santa Fe New Mexican - District Attorney Angela "Spence" Pacheco of Santa Fe said Tuesday that "there is no excuse for it." A man whose own attorney once called him the "poster boy" for DWI problems in New Mexico seems to have slipped through the cracks once again. A state district judge on July 18 was forced to dismiss a felony DWI case filed against John Paul Chavez, 51, who has at least 11 drunken-driving arrests on his record and at least eight convictions. The reason for the dismissal? The District Attorney's Office failed for more than five months to have a prosecutor enter an appearance in the case or turn over evidence against Chavez to his latest defense lawyer. Chavez became notorious in 2002 when, in a self-described drunken blackout, he ran down Colorado tourists Michael and Helen "Elly" Cote as they crossed a street near the Plaza, dragging the woman under his truck for several blocks and leaving her in a six-week coma with physical and mental limitations that remain to this day. District Judge Michael Vigil sentenced Chavez to the maximum 8 1/2 years in prison for his guilty plea in that case. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Terrell: Susana's Softer Touch

Steve Terrell
Roundhouse Roundup - Gov. Susana Martinez shares the spotlight with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in a Politico article about Republican governors "who have accomplished some of the same conservative policy goals as their higher-profile counterparts with a fraction of the backlash." Martinez and Sandoval, the piece says, "have fought to keep their heads down and the ideological stakes low. In a nation clamoring for compromise and political civility, theirs is a model to watch." “That’s where we sort of lost our way,” said Martinez, asked about the confrontational, ideological conservatism of the new wave of Republican leaders. “I am a conservative but we shouldn’t allow single words to really define us.” Politico points out that while new GOP governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida and John Kaisich of Ohio have their poll numbers in the toilet, Martinez and Sandoval are still popular in their respective states. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Deposition by Sunland Park Mayor Damaging

Martin Resendiz
The Daily Caller - New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce is almost certainly breathing a sigh of relief this week as his likely Democratic challenger admits to having been drunk on the job. This week Martin Resendiz, mayor of the city of Sunland Park, admitted in a deposition that he was drunk when he signed nine contracts with an architectural firm. The company is now suing the city for $1 million. Resendiz claims he was drinking with executives of the California company, Synthesis+, and was unaware of the nature of documents he was signing, the Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday. “The day I signed … I had way too much to drink,” Resendiz admitted. ”It was after 5 p.m. and I signed it (the contracts) and I didn’t know what I was signing.” Read full story here: News New Mexico

NMPolitics.net Recognized by Politico

Heath Haussamen
Politico - Starting an all-politics website five years ago was not without risk for Heath Haussamen. Frustrated by budget cuts and what he calls “the dumbing down of news,” he quit his newspaper job at the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico with no real sense of whether the online venture would succeed. Now NMPolitics.net — supported by advertising and donations — stands out in the Land of Enchantment for its smart, nonpartisan political coverage and analysis. Haussamen still runs the multilayered site on his own. In 2008, he traversed the state covering the presidential race and gained a reputation for thoroughness and speed. Expect more of that in 2012, as the increasingly diverse state hosts open Senate and House contests, in addition to the presidential race. Haussamen is also taking advantage of an underserved market — most of the Albuquerque Journal’s stories fall behind a pay wall.“President Barack Obama and Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, are both popular, which makes New Mexico unique,” he said. “It’s important that journalists continue to keep their eyes on the Roundhouse,” he said, referring to the state Capitol in Santa Fe. Visit Politico here: News New Mexico

Hogue: The Hidden Casualty

Ilyse Hogue 
The Nation - Most of the endless rehashing of the debt deal has correctly focused on the fact that corporate interests and Tea Party politics have prevailed again, at the expense of the middle class, children in poverty, students and the elderly. But in understanding the long-term impact of this drawn-out debate, too little attention has been paid to the blow it has dealt to the foundational principles of our democracy. A CNN poll conducted after the deal shows that a whopping 77 percent of Americans believe that elected officials acted like “spoiled children.” The yawning gap between the mindset of decision-makers in Washington and the daily reality of most Americans is a grave threat to what organizers call “little-d democracy.” This is about neither the Democratic Party nor the procedural machinery by which our nominally democratic government operates. “Little-d democracy” is the basic idea that ordinary Americans, regardless of rank or stature, can have a voice in shaping our own destiny. Read full commentary here: News New Mexico


New Bombshell: Feds allegedly allowed Sinaloa cartel to move cocaine into U.S. for information

From the El Paso Times.com - U.S. federal agents allegedly allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel to traffic several tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels, according to court documents filed in a U.S. federal court. The allegations are part of the defense of Vicente Zambada-Niebla, who was extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges in Chicago. The court in Chicago held a status hearing today and ordered the U.S. government to respond to Zambada-Niebla's motion containing the allegations by Sept. 11. The case could prove to be a bombshell on par with the ATF's "Operation Fast and Furious," except that instead of U.S. guns being allowed to walk across the border, the Sinaloa cartel was allowed to bring drugs into the United States over a five-year period, the documents allege. Read more

Chiles beat the heat: State's favorite veggie weathers tough growing conditions

From the Santa Fe New Mexican.com - The familiar roasters are popping up, spinning their Hatch green chile and luring in customers with the unrivaled smell of charred skins. At Los Chile Bros., in business for 25 years, owner Johnny Duran is happy to be out selling chile at his usual Big Lots rental spot on Cerrillos Road after a spring and summer of unfavorable crop conditions. Although New Mexico is known for all things chile, this year's drought and extreme heat have withered almost a quarter of Duran's crop. "We like the heat, but what's happening is that it's too hot and it's burning up the little flowers," said Duran, who opened his stand last week. "And each flower is a chile." According to the National Weather Service, this July was the fourth warmest on record dating back to 1895. The warmth — combined with a winter snowpack that provided Duran with only 4 inches of spring water compared to the usual foot, as well as cold weather that extended well into the third week of May — has delayed the ripening of his chiles. Although he was running behind his usual selling start date of July 26 by just two days, Duran is now selling only three varieties of the Hatch chile: mild, hot and extra-hot. Usually by the end of July, Duran has all of his varieties available, including the Big Jim chiles. Chile always has been a popular vegetable for private gardeners to nurse from seedlings, according to Emily Skelton, who works in the seed department of Plants of the Southwest. But she said that despite the chile's popularity, it is an unpredictable plant to grow in places like Santa Fe because of the fluctuation of daily temperatures, even in the summer. Read more

No Raise for Albuquerque Teachers

KOB TV - Public schoolteachers in Albuquerque are getting ready for another school year without a pay raise and in fact their paychecks will be smaller than they were last year. The Albuquerque Teachers Federation has reached a tentative agreement with Albuquerque Public Schools on a new contract without pay raises for the third year in a row and teachers will be paying a bigger share of their salaries into their pension plan. The average APS teacher makes about $43,000 a year and the bigger pension contribution will shrink that average paycheck by about $60 a month. The legislature came up with the one year increase to help balance the recession-ravaged budget without raising taxes. "They are giving a greater contribution, but so are all state employees across the board," said Gov. Susana Martinez. "Keep in mind that in New Mexico the employer contribution to the retirement for state employees is the third highest in the nation." Read full story here: News New Mexico

Fischmann: Smart regulation is key to a strong economy

From NM Politics.net - By - Politicians on the right tell us that cutting government spending, ending the “nanny” state and reducing taxes are the keys to righting all of our economic woes. From the left we are told that stimulus spending, funding major social programs, and raising taxes on the rich is the road to job creation and fixing the economy. Washington wages war over the budget and the theatre is riveting as politicians play Russian roulette with our future by putting U.S. credit worthiness at risk. We’re so transfixed by this iconic battle between left and right that we seem to have forgotten what precipitated our current economic woes in the first place. It wasn’t lazy welfare cheats, and it wasn’t ridiculously generous tax breaks to the wealthy – though neither helped. It was lack of commonsense regulation in the financial markets. Read more

63% of Democrats: We're Going the Wrong Way

Rasmussen - Eighty percent (80%) of voters say the country is heading down the wrong track, the highest finding since early November 2008. Since January 2009, voter pessimism had ranged from 57% to 63%. Most Republicans (92%) and voters not affiliated with either political party (84%) believe the country is heading down the wrong track. Even a majority (63%) of Democrats now say the country is heading in the wrong direction. Read details of poll here: News New Mexico

Richardson Pay-to-Play Allegations Surface in Baltimore

Bill Richardson
Baltimore Sun - The State Lottery Agency says it wants to return $3 million in fees submitted by backers of a failed bid for the Baltimore slots license. But with so many lawyers, former business partners and vendors claiming the cash, officials have turned to a court to figure out who should get it. Now a new group is demanding the money: the people of New Mexico. Lawyers working for the New Mexico attorney general's office say the money paid in support of Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer's bid came from proceeds of an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving the son of a friend of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. In papers filed last week in Baltimore Circuit Court, New Mexico says it wants the money back and will use it "to fund public education and government programs for the benefit of the citizens of New Mexico." Dana P. Moore, an attorney who represents Moldenhauer, disputes New Mexico's claim and says the $3 million should be returned to the Toronto homebuilder. "They say they can prove the money came from ill-gotten means," Moore said. "I don't think they can prove that. I don't think they can substantiate that." Read full story here: News New Mexico