Senator says he was impersonated

From - by Kim Holland - A woman who runs a program for people down on their luck said a state senator stiffed her $1,600 after she did him a favor. But the senator told News 13 he has no idea what the woman is talking about and believes someone has been impersonating him. Either way, it’s a bizarre story. Tani Gallup said she first came into contact with a man who identified himself as Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, several months ago. That’s when Gallup – who runs an Albuquerque residential program for people with drug and alcohol problems or have had brushes with the law – received a phone call from the director of a halfway house in Albuquerque. Gallup said the director told her that a man named Billy Sanchez, who was on probation for fraud and tax evasion, had been recently kicked out of his halfway house and needed a place to live. The director also said Sanchez was Griego’s nephew and that the senator would be grateful if she’d accept him, Gallup said. Gallup said Griego promised her he’d pay for his nephew’s tab. Two and a half months later, Sanchez left the Casa de Amigos house unannounced. At that time, his bill was nearly $1,600, Gallup said. Griego first referred News 13 to his attorney, but when a reporter caught up with him at a recent meeting of the Legislative Finance Committee, he was outspoken. He told New 13 he doesn’t have a relative named Billy Sanchez and that someone is misusing his name. Still, Gallup said she believes she was talking to the real senator, and she’s filed a lawsuit to try and recoup her money. Meanwhile, Sanchez was recently arrested for breaking his probation and is currently sitting in prison in Los Lunas. Read more

Law enforcement board bucks Gary King

Gary King
From Capitol Report New - In the past year, New Mexico attorney general Gary King has taken his lumps from critics who say he and his office has not aggressively pursued a number of political investigations. On Tuesday (Dec. 13), King found himself outvoted 7-1 by members of the board he chairs — the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board – on two resolutions during an often acrimonious emergency meeting that focused on charges the attorney general’s office isn’t doing its job presenting the state’s case for sanctions against law enforcement officers accused of misconduct. One of the civilian members of the board — attorney Nate Korn – delivered a blistering attack on the lawyer within the AG’s office in charge of handling those misconduct cases. Speaking in front of the board, Korn accused Matt Jackson of “inept prosecution,” that Jackson “has basically warehoused cases” while exhibiting “an abysmal lack of preparation and an abysmal lack of understanding of the rules of evidence.” Read more

Former Richardson official, fundraiser testify at grand jury probe

From the Santa Fe New - by Trip Jennings - A former deputy campaign manager with former Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential campaign and an Albuquerque restaurateur and developer appeared before a federal grand jury looking into possible wrongdoing by the state's former chief executive. But neither Amanda Cooper nor Jimmy Daskalos had anything to say as they entered and left the Pete V. Domenici federal courthouse Tuesday in Albuquerque. Cooper is the stepdaughter of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and worked as Richardson's deputy campaign manager during his presidential run. Cooper also worked on Richardson's 2006 re-election campaign for governor. Daskalos, who has owned Yanni's, a prominent Albuquerque restaurant, with Richardson insider Nick Kapnison, was a fundraiser for the former governor. Cooper and Daskalos were the only witnesses observed entering or exiting the grand jury room Tuesday, although other individuals had been rumored to be in line to testify. Other than a small group of journalists who greeted Cooper and Daskalos, there were no signs that anything important was happening behind closed doors at the courthouse. Read more

U.S. military drone crashes in Seychelles

From the Washington Post - One of the Air Force’s premier drones crashed Tuesday morning in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean archipelago that serves as a base for anti-piracy operations, as well as U.S. surveillance missions over Somalia. The crash of the MQ-9 Reaper comes roughly two weeks after a U.S. drone went down in Iran. The Seychelles, where U.S. officials have worked closely with local officials to establish the drone base, is hardly enemy territory, and the drone that crashed Tuesday was operated by the Air Force, not the CIA, which operated the stealth RQ-170 that crashed in Iran. Still, Tuesday’s crash once again illustrates the fallibility of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Air Force acknowledged the crash at the Seychelles airport, and a spokesman for the service said the crash happened as the drone was landing. No one was injured. Read more

In U.S., Fear of Big Government at Near-Record Level

From - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession. Relatively few name big labor as the greatest threat. Historically, Americans have always been more concerned about big government than big business or big labor in response to this trend question dating back to 1965. Concerns about big business surged to a high of 38% in 2002, after the large-scale accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom. An all-time-high 65% of Americans named big government as the greatest threat in 1999 and 2000. Worries about big labor have declined significantly over the years, from a high of 29% in 1965 to the 8% to 11% range over the past decade and a half. Read more

Do people have too much time on their hands?


Jerome Block Arrested..... Again!

From -For the third time in two months, Jerome Block Jr. has been arrested. From Geoff Grammer of the Santa Fe New Mexican, who reports that the former member of the Public Regulation Commission has been booked into Santa Fe County jail:Jail records show he was booked in Tuesday at 3:12 p.m.It is unclear what his latest violation was that landed him in jail, but his previous two trips there (Oct. 14 and Nov. 14) were related to violations of the terms of his participation in the Adult Drug Court program, but not necessarily a dirty drug test.  More News New Mexico

Campos: We should all pay our fair share

Pete Campos
From NM - by State Senator Pete Campos - No one likes to pay taxes, but most of us accept it as necessary to provide for essential public services. What is hard to accept, and what we should not accept, are tax policies that by chance or by design allow some people and corporations to get away with not paying their fair share of taxes. Unfair tax policies not only deprive the state treasury of badly needed revenue – revenue to hire more teachers and police officers, repair roads or keep parks clean – such policies also understandably foster broad public resentment and weaken consumer confidence. Simply put, unfair tax policies are just plain un-American! Fixing many unfair tax policies may seem like an unattainable goal for most New Mexicans because the policies are set at the federal level or are supported by entrenched special interests. But the New Mexico Legislature in January will have a chance to correct one such policy: the multistate corporate tax loophole that allows huge corporations doing business in New Mexico and other states to pay absolutely no corporate income tax to New Mexico. Senator Peter Wirth of Santa Fe has said he will again sponsor legislation to make out-of-state corporations pay their fair share of New Mexico income taxes. Among western states that have a corporate income tax, only New Mexico and Oklahoma do not require out-of-state corporations doing business in the state to pay state income taxes. Read more

Federal Funds to Build More Homes in Southern N.M.

From -USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner traveled to Berino, New Mexico Tuesday to present over $700,000 in certificates of obligation to Tierra Del Sol Housing Corporation, Inc (TDS). The funding will be used to administer the construction of 36 new homes in Berino, New Mexico. TDS is also receiving additional funding for the repair and upgrading of five homes owned by the elderly. The third award is a loan to provide business opportunities in the southern part of the state.  More News New Mexico

Don't Mess With West Texas or Eastern N.M.

From -By Tim Thurlow -I just sent a comment to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding its proposal to list the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (DSL) on the “endangered” list of the Endangered Species Act, and I feel great about it. Absolutely great! After I pressed the “enter” button on my computer and sent this comment to the FWS, I celebrated by eating a third of a roll of raw Christmas cookie dough instead of baking these cookies for an up-coming Christmas party. My friends at the party will understand – this was done in the name of something big!  More News New Mexico

Obama: Will Veto Payroll Tax Cut Extension, Jobs Created by Keystone XL Pipeline

Washington Times - President Obama on Tuesday said he will veto House Republicans’ payroll tax extension unless the GOP ditches spending cuts and instead pairs the tax cut with a tax increase on the wealthy. The threat, communicated by the White House in an official statement of policy, sets up a bruising year-end showdown that could even risk another government shutdown, since Democrats have signaled they won’t sign off on a massive spending bill to keep the government open unless the GOP agrees to their demands on the payroll tax cut.

House Republicans are still pushing ahead with a planned vote later Tuesday on their package, which would extend this year’s payroll tax cut into 2012, but couples it with a provision that would force the administration to make a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. The administration, caught between environmentalists who oppose the pipeline and labor unions who support it, has tried to put off a final decision until after the election. But the White House, in its veto threat, said nothing about the pipeline, instead attacking the GOP’s use of spending cuts instead of tax increases to offset the Social Security revenue lost from the payroll tax cut. Read the full story here: News New Mexico

APS Enrollment Down

APS Supt. Winston Brooks
KOB TV - A mysterious drop in student enrollment has New Mexico's biggest public school district wondering why it is happening and how much it is going to cost. Albuquerque Public Schools is looking at a net loss of just over 1,000 students, and that could mean lopping off more millions from a budget that has already been shrinking in the Great Recession. So far, nobody really knows where the 1,013 students went. They are not showing up in charter school enrollment. APS is checking with other school districts to see if families have moved to Rio Rancho, or Los Lunas, or some other towns. The bottom line is an even tighter budget for a school system that has been cut by $100 million over the past three years, with a loss of about 1,000 jobs. "What that means in terms of dollars is about $6.6 million," said APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya. "That's what those students represent in terms of dollars from the funding formula from the state." APS has about 89,000 students, so this is a loss of more than 1 percent. Read full story here: News New Mexico


"Battle Wounds"


Rep Dennis Cardoza: Obama is Arrogant, Alienating

Dennis Cardoza
The Hill - By Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) - After observing President Obama for the last three years, it has become obvious to me that the president might prefer to be a university professor rather than do the job he holds today. While he might not realize that he feels this way, the evidence is very clear to those who work with or watch him closely. Let me be clear — I’m not trying to disparage professors. But anyone who wonders why the president is not crushing the weak Republican field only needs to examine how President Obama has behaved more like Professor Obama. In the president’s first year in office, his administration suffered from what I call “idea disease.” Every week, and sometimes almost every day, the administration rolled out a new program for the country. There was no obvious prioritization and, after the rollout, very little effort to actually pass the latest idea/imperative/plan/edict. read full column here: News New Mexico

Lower Number of Illegals Arrested in N.M. and T.X.

Pulaski note: Some would say this is due to a lack of people illegally crossing our border, others like myself would say there are less apprehensions occuring by choice.  In the beginning of the year there were reports of Border Patrol agents being told to limit their arrests.  Now we are reporting less arrests at the end of the year, coincidence, I think not.The article can be seen here  From -The number of illegal immigrants caught crossing the Mexican border in New Mexico and far West Texas has declined to its lowest level since 1967. Officials with the El Paso Border Patrol sector say the number of apprehensions dropped to 10,345 in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30. That's a 15 percent drop from the 2010 total of 12,251.  More News New Mexico

N.M Rated Among Worst in Nation in Child Homelessness

From -A new report by an advocacy group says the problem of homeless children in America is growing rapidly, with one in 45 children experiencing homelessness in a year. The study released Tuesday by the National Center on Family Homelessness in Needham, Mass.  The last 10 were Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Louisiana, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama. The study found those states have more families living close to the poverty line, with one-fourth or more of their families paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent. Many of the states fell short on planning to deal with the problem of homeless children and lacked programs to provide affordable housing.  More News New Mexico

Holder to Press Against Voter-ID Laws

A.G. Eric Holder
From -The Obama administration on Tuesday will wade into the increasingly divisive national debate over new voting laws in several states that could depress turnout among minorities and others who helped elect the president in 2008. …With the presidential campaign heating up,Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will deliver a speech Tuesday expressing concerns about the voter-identification laws, along with a Texas redistricting plan before the Supreme Court that fails to take into account the state’s burgeoning Hispanic population, he said in an interview Monday.  More News New Mexico.

ICSC Supports Canada’s Withdrawal from Kyoto

Ottawa, Canada, December 13, 2011: “The Canadian Government’s decision to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol is an important victory for common sense and one we hope all Canadians will applaud,” said Tom Harris, executive director of ICSC which is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. “The Protocol is based on an incorrect interpretation of the science of climate change and should never have been ratified by Canada, or any other country.”
ICSC chief science advisor, Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia agrees, “By quitting Kyoto, the Canadian Government has set an important example for other nations to follow. Instead of focusing our energies on futile attempts to control the planet’s climate, we need to prepare for inevitable climate change—warming and cooling, drought and flood, etc.—so as to reduce many of the very real and tragic consequences that often accompany natural climate variability.”
Dr. Tim Ball, ICSC science advisor and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg explains, “The Kyoto Protocol and all other flawed agreements to control climate originate with the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But the “Climategate” e-mails revealed that the scientists leading the IPCC corrupted the process by suppressing the very strong scientific evidence that humanity’s influence on global climate is insignificant. Both the IPCC and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change—the agreement that constitutes the foundation of Kyoto, Durban, and the Cancun Agreements—should be immediately disbanded. They have perpetrated the greatest hoax in the history of modern science.”
The agreements reached in Durban specify that “social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries.”
“This makes sense, of course, but it effectively gives developing nations an out clause that developed nations do not have,” Mr. Harris warns. “Any future UN climate agreement based on Durban may therefore not be materially different to the skewed approach of Kyoto where most of the world is not held to any limits at all. The government made a mistake in agreeing to this and should consequently rescind their support.”
Professor Carter concludes, “These traps could be avoided if more governments followed the example of Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, and simply recognized the truth about climate change, which is that the science is immensely complex and that much controversy remains about even its most basic fundamentals. In such circumstances, expensive and ineffectual greenhouse gas reduction agreements are not only premature, but also an irresponsible waste of money.”


Gambling and New Mexico Politics

Mitt Romney
The most recent GOP presidential debate generated fireworks over the weekend. Apparently, Mitt Romney offered to “bet” Rick Perry $10,000 over some point of debate contention. Earlier yesterday we noticed a number of people around the state talking about how awful it was for Romney to be tossing around the idea of gambling that amount of money. Imagine! $10,000. Even State Auditor and U.S. Senate candidate Hector Balderas was indignant over the thought of a whopping $10,000 wager involving Romney.
There is one wager that will never be offered by any elected official in the state of New Mexico. You can bet that nobody will wager that someone in a leadership position within the Democratic Party of New Mexico will demand that state Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales fully disclose the details of his ownership involvement in the "Santa Fe Studios" gamble.
Very serious questions remain regarding this gambling "arrangement." How much taxpayer money was gambled on Santa Fe Studios a couple of years ago? Was it as much as the $10,000 that Mitt Romney offered to risk?
Let’s count up all of the taxpayer money wagered on Santa Fe Studios and let's identify the gamblers involved. The gamblers were lawmakers. Some were elected to serve Santa Fe County and others were allegedly serving our very own state government. Of course none of the decision makers involved in the Santa Fe Studios gamble actually bet their own money on the "deal." Instead they made this very aggressive multi-million dollar wager on behalf of taxpayers.
Javier Gonzales
The entire bet on Santa Fe Studios was huge. It included plenty of free land, free water utility hookups, a $10 million "economic development" grant (from the state of New Mexico) and a $6.5 million low interest rate loan (from Santa Fe County). Who received the money? It was collected by private owners that included the Democrats very own Party Chairman, Javier Gonzales. Why was taxpayer money gambled? The only reason we have been able to detect is that there were high hopes for eventual “job creation.”
When pressed for disclosure Javier Gonzales never explained how a person in his position of incredible political influence could be on the receiving end of such a large taxpayer financed bet. However, Gonzales did say that he had since “detached” himself from the project. We checked around. No CPA’s or tax attorneys we spoke with seemed to know what the financial term “detached” actually meant. Did he sell his stake? If so for how much? 
With the holidays approaching and betting being part of the current discussion, two wagers seem sure. First, Gonzales is unlikely to receive a politically engineered financial gift like he pulled in a couple of years ago. Second, even with all the talk of "full disclosure" being bandied about as a big “issue” in the upcoming legislative session, anyone purportedly offended by Romney’s gambling offer to Rick Perry, won’t be demanding a full accounting of the Santa Fe Studios gamble, let alone disclosing who was on the winning end of the wager. It would seem that getting to the bottom of this deal will be up to media members. Once thing is for sure. It doesn't pass the smell test.


New Mexico Clean and Beautiful Wins Award

New Mexico Business Weekly - New Mexico Clean & Beautiful received the Diamond Recognition Award from Keep America Beautiful at the national organization’s recent conference in New Orleans. The award recognizes the New Mexico program, which is part of the state Tourism Department, for promoting the Keep America Beautiful mission and supporting local affiliates around the state. Keep America Beautiful, established in 1953, is the nation’s largest volunteer-based community action and education organization. Read full story here: News New Mexico


NMSU Belt Tightening Results in $950 Bonuses

KRWG - LAS CRUCES - Prudent financial planning is allowing New Mexico State University to fund a number of campus improvements with one-time funds, including student scholarships, classroom improvements and research support for the Las Cruces campus. In addition, NMSU will give each regular employee a one-time payment of $950 on Dec. 15.
"As we approach the holiday season, I want to express my appreciation to the employees for their efforts on behalf of NMSU," Couture said. "Graduation is Goal #1 for everyone at this university, and it was an honor to recognize our graduates on the Las Cruces campus this past Saturday at commencement. We can all be very proud of our accomplishments this past year on all NMSU campuses. I thank the employees for their continued good work in support of our mission of teaching, research, extension education and public service." The payment will be made to all regular employees who have been employed continuously from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011. The amount will be prorated for part-time regular employees and will be distributed in the Dec. 15 payroll. Taxes will be withheld from this amount.
"These one-time dollars are available because we cut more than we needed last year in anticipation of a reduction in state appropriations for fiscal year 2012," Couture said. "These funds held over from fiscal year 2011 can now be spent to support needs central to the success of our university." Read full story here: News New Mexico

"World Economy Cruise"