Suspect wondered if bait car a trap

From - Sometimes you really should trust your instincts. Julia Marquez, 15, is probably telling herself that after she and Gabriel Romo, 35, were arrested by Albuquerque police on charges they stole an Albuquerque Police Department bait car set to trap would-be thieves. Surveillance video from inside the car shows Marquez had her suspicions about the car parked near Lafayette Driven NE and Comanche Road shortly after getting in around 2:15 p.m. Wednesday. "I think it's a bait car," Marquez told Romo. Seconds later Marquez voices her doubts again, but Romo disagrees, Marquez acquiesces and the two drive off. They don't go far driving the car less than a block to the parking lot of the Villas Esperanza Apartments. "They were even saying where they should put the car so no one can see it or where the tow truck drivers wouldn't try to take it out of the property," APD Sgt. Donovan Olvera said. The fact that Marquez suspected the APD bait car was a bait car is something Olvera points to as a positive sign the program is working. "We want them to get to the point where they stare at a car and say that may be a bait car, 'I don't feel like going to jail today,'" Olvera said. Read more

Martinez Looks to Reward Guard and Reserve Service

Susana Martinez
NewsNM - Governor Susana Martinez announced her support today for legislation which would expand the definition of a veteran under state law in order to include more members of the National Guard and Reserve units. Martinez is calling for a change in definition to allow any Guard or Reserve member to be fully “veteran-eligible” after completing six years of Guard or Reserve status — the typical length of service one commits when initially signing up.  
Since 2001, many National Guard and Reserve members have been federally activated for periods up to one year, often numerous times. When they do so they place themselves in harm’s way in order to ensure the health and safety of New Mexicans and all Americans.


Costs of Freedom to Trash Mount in L.A.

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The City of Los Angeles reportedly faces millions of dollars in expenses brought about by the Occupy LA movement. City agencies have been ordered to calculate what was spent on the Occupy LA protests. Repairs to City Hall’s lawn where the Occupy group set up camp on Oct. 1 will require an estimated $400,000. The police action to clear out the encampment on Nov. 30 cost more than $700,000. Additional expenses are attributed to hauling away debris from the camp, and cleaning up graffiti that defaced City Hall marble walls and trees. Mayor Villaraigosa says more budget cuts will be necessary to offset the costs. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Carlsbad Will Hire Lobbyist for WIPP

Carlsbad Current Argus - Eddy County and the city of Carlsbad have decided to hire a lobbyist to represent the area in Washington DC. After a two-hour debate and comment from business leaders, the Carlsbad Department of Development and Chamber of Commerce, the Eddy County Commission, in a 3-2 vote, decided to join the city to issue a request for proposals for a lobbyist. The annual cost to retain a lobbyist in Washington will cost taxpayers about $200,000 per year to represent the county and city’s interest in helping the Waste Isolation Pilot Project receive adequate funding and expand its mission. Read full story here: News New Mexico

"Death of a Tyrant"


PRC Audit Release by Balderas

(Santa Fe, NM)—Today, State Auditor Hector Balderas announced the results of a financial audit that found certain Commissioners and employees of the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) broke federal tax laws related to personal use of state vehicles, violated state regulations for state-issued gas cards, and failed to properly report criminal conduct that occurred in the agency. The independent audit, performed by Atkinson and Co., Ltd. and overseen by the State Auditor, was conducted in the wake of allegations of gas card fraud and state vehicle abuse by former PRC Commissioner Jerome Block. “The independent audit finds serious violations of federal tax law by both Commissioners and employees at the Public Regulation Commission,” Balderas said. “I’m also very concerned that certain Commissioners and employees made over $30,000 in potentially unauthorized purchases of gas and other products with state-issued gas credit cards.”
Highlights of the independent audit include:
Hector Balderas
In violation of federal tax regulations, the PRC did not keep records that track the business and personal use of government vehicles used by PRC Commissioners and employees. The independent auditor found that the PRC is underreporting fringe benefit income to Commissioners and employees who are commuting in a state vehicle; Over $30,000 in unauthorized gas purchases and other products may have been made with PRC-issued gas credit cards in fiscal year 2011; The independent auditor found the PRC violated state law by failing to properly report information to the State Auditor about potential fraudulent gas card charges by former Commissioner Block, which may have unreasonably delayed investigations of wrongful activity at the agency; 20 persons at the PRC made hundreds of prohibited purchases of premium gas in violation of state regulations; One Commissioner’s use of a state-owned Ford F-250 truck resulted in questioned costs and was in noncompliance with a federal program. The Commissioner drove the truck for a period approximating 30 days; and State vehicles were taken out of state in violation of state regulations.
In addition to the financial audit, Balderas has designated the PRC for a special audit which will cover an expanded period of the agency’s state vehicle use and travel practices. Balderas said that violations of federal and state law identified by both audits will be referred to appropriate oversight agencies. The entire 2011 financial audit report for the PRC may be downloaded on the Office of the State Auditor’s website here: News New Mexico 


New Fairgrounds Lease Agreement Approved

The New Mexico Board of Finance met in open session and on web cast Tuesday to discuss and vote on the approval of the state’s new lease agreement with the Downs of Albuquerque at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. The vote of the board was unanimous in favor of the deal. Various witnesses were called to explain how the lengthy Request for Proposal (RFP) process was implemented prior to the reaching of an agreement. There were also extensive discussions of the steps taken to gather public input associated with the bid process on the contract.
Despite the fact that the new lease renewal was subject to the first open bid process, including a formal RFP in several years, some critics have insinuated that the lease renewal agreement was completed behind closed doors and rigged. At issue seems to be the belief by some that the current lease should have been extended to give the state more time to weigh its options. The State Fair has come under severe criticism this year for operating losses that have been picked up by taxpayers. 
Tim Keller
Included in the new 25 year lease agreement are provisions for the Downs of Albuquerque to invest $20 million in a new racino at the site. Proponents of the agreement believe the new money, which all comes from private investment sources, will greatly improve the property, create several hundred construction jobs, and the greatly increase the potential for substantially higher tax revenues from the new racino facility. Other provisions in the new lease agreement seem to give the state considerable performance enforcement leverage as well as the offloading of operating costs. Still, Senator Tim Keller, who has been particularly critical of the process over the course of both the Richardson administration and now the Martinez administration, has been one of the chief proponents arguing for a delay. You can hear Senator Keller's complaints on the video contained in a story and interview conducted by Rob Nikolewski of Capital Report New Mexico.


Lies and Word Games

Politicians lie and play word games. They do so because it pays in politics. Last year’s holiday budget compromise included a one-time reduction in the cash flows going into the Social Security program. This came in the form of reducing FICA taxes on workers (not businesses). Social Security was already an actuarial nightmare and the policy advanced the timer on a ticking time bomb.
Naturally, no elected official told working voters that the reduction in their Social Security contributions would make the entire system they are counting on several years from now to go bankrupt faster.
Let’s fast forward 12 months. Again Washington politicians on both sides of the aisle have been pounding the table telling voters how important a second extension of the one-time payroll tax reduction is. As the process has unraveled, Democrats have even claimed the Tea Parties (Taxed Enough Already) want taxes to go up. For their part, Republicans tried unsuccessfully to tie the one-time extension to ending the three year delay of the Keystone Pipeline permit which would create more than 100,000 jobs.
New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, who oppose the pipeline project, both lamented the fact that the Senate’s version of the one-time extension was only for 60 days. Then both Senators voted for it. President Obama called the Senate's action “inexcusable.” Yesterday, Senate candidate and NM House member Martin Heinrich blamed the process that will simply return Social Security contributions to the same levels they have been at for decades, on the Tea Party. Heinrich thinks Tea Partiers favor higher taxes because they want to protect the wealthy.
Does anybody watching these proceedings feel as if they are being treated like they are intelligent? Is the "middle class" supposed to be upset because America won’t be bankrupting our Social Security system faster?


"Matters of the Heart"


Albuquerque city councilors ease energy building code

From - Albuquerque City Councilors are easing up on energy efficiency requirements for developers. They said will make Albuquerque more builder friendly, but environmentalists said the consumer will end up paying. Albuquerque's old code cost more for builders, but some estimates say it made buildings as much as 19 percent more energy efficient. "We think it's kind of a catastrophe both for the economy and the environment. On the economic front, this is going to cost consumers money," said Shrayas Jatkar with the Sierra Club. Jatkar said Albuquerque's old energy code saved people money on utilities. It had more stringent requirements for insulation and windows. He said the new code adopted last night is a step back. "Energy costs are rising, this code really prepared us for a future where energy efficiency is paramount," Jatkar said. But Drew Dolan with NAIOP, a commercial real estate development association, disagreed. He said the new code, the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, is good for Albuquerque. He said it is consistent now with the rest of New Mexico, which makes it more appealing to builders. "It's like a sigh of relief now. We know what the code is, we know there's predictability, we know it's an efficient code," Dolan said. Dolan said the old code actually kept businesses away from Albuquerque. "I don't know any businesses that had to be in New Mexico because we had an ultra-green Albuquerque energy conservation code, but I do know businesses who were looking outside of Albuquerque because of this code," he explained. Read more

Family's Roof Collapses After Snow Storm

From - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Just days before Christmas, the roof of an Albuquerque family's home collapsed -- just feet away from where two children normally sleep.
After the incident, the family said it wasn't getting any help until Action 7 News showed up.
Parent Gracy Medel said she started noticing a leak in the ceiling of her two girl's room so she moved the children out. Not long after that, the roof collapsed right where the children sleep.
Medel lives in city-supervised affordable housing and said the roof had been leaking since January. She said a crew came out but never even went up on the roof. The water damage is now spreading throughout the home. There are even pockets of water in the hallway ceiling.
After Action 7 News got involved, a maintenance worker arrived and the family was given an emergency transfer. Medel said they've been waiting months for a transfer. Read more