Blowing White Sands Spotted From Space

From space.com -New Mexico's glistening white gypsum dunes, which cover 275 square miles (712 square kilometers), are the largest gypsum dune fields on the planet. The snow-white sands are easily spotted from space; astronauts could see the dune fields on their way to the moon. This photograph was snapped by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station on Feb. 28, 2012. Here, winds have lifted vast plumes of the rare, white mineral into the air, sending them more than 70 miles (112 km) eastward, stretching in white clouds out over the Sacramento Mountains, which are dappled with snow. On this day in late February, the winds were brisk enough to whip the gypsum to heights of nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).
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NM Supreme Court Upholds Luevano Ruling

From therepublic.com -The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that a state legislative candidate is ineligible to run for the post held by state Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Maestas had challenged the candidacy of Johnny Luevano and claimed that Luevano wasn't a district resident on the legally required date. Maestas had challenged the candidacy of Johnny Luevano and claimed that Luevano wasn't a district resident on the legally required date.  A district court's ruling in Maestas's favor led Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver to remove Luevano's name from the ballot. Luevano then filed an appeal and claimed he was eligible to run because of a federal law that allows service members to establish a legal residency in a state while they are serving elsewhere.  More here
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First Lady Obama to visit Kirtland AFB on Tuesday

From KOB-TV.com - First Lady Michelle Obama will be making a trip to the Land of Enchantment on Tuesday. Mrs. Obama will meet and honor service members at Kirtland Air Force base Tuesday afternoon. As part of her visit, Mrs. Obama will be honoring Air Force Tech Sergeant Jordan Bishopp. He was named one of the 12 outstanding airmen of the year in 2011. After visiting Bishop and other soldier at Kirtland, she will then deliver remarks at a private fundraiser before heading back to Washington D.C. Read more
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Swickard: City gives green light to red light tyranny

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Recently Albuquerque disbanded their red-light camera system. But the City of Las Cruces last week decided tyranny was in order. Those who do not pay red-light camera fines will find their water and natural gas turned off. The city claims they are forced to get rough with the citizens. Now my air conditioner requires water to work. They intend to turn off my air conditioning going into the summer heat season. How reasonable is that? Know this: the City of Las Cruces has no business being involved in utilities if they can shut off the utilities for reasons outside of the delivery of service. The Public Regulation Commission needs to take all utilities away from them. The city has shown it is an unworthy steward of the public trust. Likewise, the leadership of Las Cruces must go, they are not worthy of the trust the citizens put in them when they placed the leadership in authority. It is time for the State of New Mexico to take over the city management. Taking away the ability to cool a home in the heat of summer could lead to inadvertent citizen deaths. The citizens are being put at mortal risk by the leadership’s shortsighted use of tyranny to satisfy their need for money. Hopefully, the state can restore the right of citizens to receive their life-preserving utilities. Read column

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Mexico will press charges against US trucker in ammo case

From the El Paso Times.com - By Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera - The U.S. trucker who was detained this week by Mexican authorities with 268,000 rounds of ammunition has been taken to Mexico City by federal investigators specializing in organized crime. Jabin Akeem Bogan, 27, was flown to Mexico City on Thursday morning by personnel of the organized crime special investigation unit of the Mexican Attorney General's Office, or PGR, said José Angel Torres Valadez, spokes man for the agency in the northern region.  The investigation will continue there, he said. Mexican federal prosecutors will press charges against the U.S. trucker who may have accidentally crossed into Juárez with 268,000 rounds of ammunition last week, a source familiar with the investigation said on Monday. The source, who requested not to be identified because he is not authorized to disclose the information, said Jabin Akeem Bogan, 27, will face charges for violation of provisions within Mexico's antigun laws.  The source said it was unclear under which provisions he would be charged, but it is possible he will be accused with possession of cartridges of exclusive use by the military.  Read more
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PNM submits pay-as-you-go renewable plan

From the Santa Fe New Mexican.com - Public Service Co. of New Mexico is proposing to charge customers extra on their bills as electricity generated from solar, wind and geothermal systems become available.The proposal is among several made in a 2013-2014 renewable energy plan the company filed with the Public Regulation Commission on Monday afternoon. The commission will hold public hearings before voting on approving, amending or denying the plan. New Mexico requires public and investor-owned utilities to meet standards for renewable energy every year. PNM, the state's largest utility, lags in meeting the standards currently. The company claims it was unable to meet the standard without going over a reasonable cost threshold established by the PRC. Among PNM's proposed sources of renewable energy through 2014:  • PNM would buy geothermal energy from the Lightning Dock geothermal project near Lordsburg under a proposed 20-year contract. • PNM would add 20 megawatts of new solar energy capacity by adding photovoltaic panels to the company's facilities in Los Lunas, Alamogordo and Deming. Currently, PNM owns 22 megawatts of solar capacity. • Customers could install up to 9 megawatts of solar capacity on their rooftops, tied into the main PNM grid, under the plan and receive renewable energy credits from the company. Read more
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Marita Noon: Crucifying Oil and Gas on a Cross Made of You and Me

Marita Noon, Energy Makes America Great.com
From Townhall.com - Commentary by Marita Noon, Energy Makes America Great.com - The revelation of the EPA’s “philosophy” used in their regulation of oil and gas companies—“crucify” and “make examples” of, just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience—provides proof of what many have known: policy decisions are made on ideology and emotion rather than fact, sound science, and economic or human impact. For this, we should all be grateful to Al Armendariz, EPA Administrator for Region 6. His honesty, in a 2010 video made public on April 26, allows us all a glimpse behind the shroud. Armendariz has been making, according to Senator James Inhofe, “comments specifically intended to incite fear and sway public opinion against hydraulic fracturing.” In Thursday’s hearing, Inhofe says Amendariz frequently claimed a “danger of fire or explosion.” Inhofe cited the Parker County Texas case as the “most outrageous.” There, in 2010, Armendariz’s region issued an Emergency Administrative Order against Range Resources—overriding the Texas state regulators who were already investigating the claim that hydraulic fracturing was contaminating well water. “Along with this order, EPA went on a publicity barrage in an attempt to publicize its premature and unjustified conclusions,” Inhofe said. The Emergency Administrative Order was dropped earlier this month, but was done, as Inhofe called it, by “strategically attempting to make these announcements as quietly as possible.” Both the EPA and the White House are trying to distance themselves from the Armendariz comments. Cynthia Giles, the EPA's assistant administrator in charge of enforcement said, “Inevitably, some will try to imply that the unfortunate and inaccurate words of one regional official represent this Agency's policy. Rest assured that they do not—and no honest examination of our record could equate our commonsense approach with such an exaggerated claim.” Yet, history shows that the Armendariz model is used more frequently than most would believe. Read Marita Noon column
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PRC could get involved in Las Cruces red-light camera/utility flap

Pat Lyons
News New Mexico Note: Commissioner Lyons will be a special guest tomorrow morning Tuesday 5/1/12 8:30am to discuss this issue. Capitol Report New Mexico -  
The chairman of the Public Regulation Commission says he wants the state agency that regulates utilities to look into a controversial program that the city of Las Cruces has established that would turn off the water, sewage and gas services of those who are delinquent in paying citations from the city’s red-light camera program. “That’s unacceptable,” commissioner Pat Lyons said by telephone on Monday (April 30) to Capitol Report New Mexico. “Water and heating, those are necessities, not luxuries.” Citing a section of the municipal code that states, “The city may decline, fail or cease to furnish utility service to any person who may be in debt to the city for any reason, except ad valorem taxes and special assessments,” Las Cruces officials sent out letters earlier this month to people who haven’t paid their citations from red-light cameras that if they don’t cough up the money (or make “satisfactory payment arrangements”) they could get their water, sewage and gas services turned off. “It’s the law,” Las Cruces city spokesman Udell Vigil told KVIA-TV, adding, “If you don’t pay for it and let it go on for a long time, you get your utilities turned off.” The fine for running a red light or speeding through a lighted intersection where a red light camera is located is $100 per violation. A $25 default fee will be added if the fine is not paid within the 35-day period stated on the citation and the city says some $2 million in delinquent fines are owed. The system is operated by Redflex Traffic Systems, an Australian-based company that installed the system in Las Cruces three years ago. Lyons, who had not heard of the Las Cruces program before Capitol Report New Mexico informed him of it, said he’ll bring up the issue at the PRC’s Tuesday morning meeting. “I’ll discuss it with our department attorney,” Lyons said. “We’ll see what we can do.” Read More:  News New Mexico

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Al “crucify them” Armendariz resigns from EPA, same guy accused of dragging his feet in NM generator dispute

Al Armendariz
Capitol Report New Mexico - Environmental Protection Agency administrator Al Armendarizresigned from the federal agency on Sunday (April 29), saying in a letter to EPA boss Lisa Jackson, “I have come to the conclusion that my continued service will distract you and  the agency from its important work.” Armendariz caused a firestorm last week when a videotape from 2010 surfaced of him comparing enforcement of EPA rules on the oil and gas industry to practices he described of ancient Romans who, Armendariz said,  would enter a colony and “crucify” the first five men they saw as an example to potential lawbreakers. Back on Friday, Capitol Report New Mexico pointed out that an official from New Mexico’s Environment Department specifically cited that Armendariz had been dragging his feet in a dispute the state is having with the EPA regarding the San Juan Generating Station’s coal-fired plant located in the northwest part of the state. Read More News New Mexico

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New Mexico is in a slog toward economic recovery

KOBNew Mexico remains in a slog toward economic recovery. The Albuquerque Journal reports that economic data for the second half of 2011 shows New Mexico's job creation numbers are troubling but may be improving. The state's personal income numbers are encouraging, unless you count business owners' income. And unemployment numbers have been a moving target. The data reported by the newspaper and compiled by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research suggest that the state's economy is improving. Unemployment averaged 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011, 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter and 7.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Read More News New Mexico

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Elephant Butte Dam: Irrigation shaped Mesilla Valley's history

Elephant Butte Dam
Las Cruces Sun-News For almost a century, the Rio Grande has come to a stop at what was once the largest man-made reservoir in the world. From there, through the spillway of the Elephant Butte Dam, the river waters become part of a complex irrigation network feeding farms and orchards from Rincon to the El Paso Valley. With the beginning of another dry irrigation season this week, farmers already know they'll be getting precious little — in most cases, the equivalent of one good irrigation — of that river water this year. Yet without Elephant Butte, it's possible some wouldn't be getting any at all. Before the dam, the Rio Grande was a naturally flowing ribbon of water. But it was erratic, either flowing strong or at a trickle. In 1902, the newly created U.S. Reclamation Service assumed control over a proposed dam some wanted built 90 miles north of Las Cruces. That dam would impact the growth, development and history of the Mesilla Valley like nothing else. Read More News New Mexico

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Wiener rejects calls for his resignation

Michael Weiner
NMPolitics.netDespite calls for his resignation from Gov. Susana Martinez and others in his own party, Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener says he’ll let voters decide his fate. “While I may have exercised poor judgment while on vacation, I have broken no laws and brought no harm to anyone except for myself,” the Albuquerque Journal quoted the Republican as saying. “To suspend my campaign or step down from the office I was duly elected to would be tantamount to an admission that I had done something wrong when the fact is I have not.” “There’s an election in 37 days and if the people at that time want to pick somebody else to represent them on the county commission, that’s certainly the way a democracy works that we all belong to,” KOB-TV quoted him as saying. “And I’m going to let the voters in my district speak rather than a few elected officials.” Wiener was photographed posing with several scantily-clad women in a sex-tourism area in the Philippines by a photographer documenting sexual exploitation. The commissioner says he was simply walking through the area while on a flight layover. Former Chamber of Commerce Chairman Lonnie Talbert is running against Wiener in the June primary and was endorsed last week by the governor. No Democrats are in the race. Others calling for Wiener to resign include Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, most of Wiener’s colleagues on the county commission and the Albuquerque Journal editorial board. Read More News New Mexico

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Film property bought by state for Robert Redford projects hardly used; $1.75m in stimulus funds spent

Bill Richardson & Robert Redford
Capitol Report New Mexico The Albuquerque Journal published a story Sunday (April 29) reporting that the Los Luceros property in Santa Fe that the state bought during the Bill Richardson administration — aimed at work with actor Robert Redford’s famous Sundance Institute to create and expand training programs in film, arts and the environment — has hardly been used after the state allocated $2.5 million to renovate the structure. From the Journal[The state's Cultural Affairs Secretary Veronica] Gonzales said there has been no money for programming, but she is about to hire a company to perform a $50,000 audit to show how the state can either fund or seek a public-private partnership to bring more programming to the site. Her department has money to maintain the property, she said, but not to offer programming. A film institute, helmed by Redford, was planned for the site years ago but has had programs there only a handful of times. The department has not been in contact with the actor’s consultants in months, according to Gonzales. Messages sent to Redford through his publicists were not returned. An email from a publicist stated the actor was out of the country and was not available to comment. Capitol Report New Mexico reported on this story back in October of 2010 and mentioned how then-Gov. Richardson allocated $1.75 million dollars to the Los Luceros project with stimulus funds, which state Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) didn’t approve of. Sen. Smith said the stimulus cash from the federal government could have been better spent on social services across the state. Read More News New Mexico

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Arizona Leads U.S. in Real Immigration Reform

BloombergOne’s heart really has to go out to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. Last month, in one of the most high-profile cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in decades, the litigation position of his client -- the U.S. government under the administration of President Barack Obama -- forced Verrilli to argue on one day that the penalty imposed by the individual mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act was not a tax that would deprive the court of jurisdiction under the Anti-Injunction Act, but argue the very next day that it was a tax for the purposes of determining Congress’s constitutional authority to adopt the act.The administration’s position also led him to argue on Day 2 that the individual mandate was a core part of the act, but on Day 3 that, if unconstitutional, the individual mandate could be severed from the rest of the statute because it was not a core part of the act. Then, last week, Verrilli’s client’s position compelled him to argue that the Obama administration’s unwritten policy of non-enforcement of federal immigration law prevented the states from helping to enforce those very same laws, because of the Supremacy Clause, which makes the Constitution and laws of the U.S. (not the policy preferences of a particular executive) the supreme law of the land. Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, widely presumed to be an opponent of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration law, had to tell the solicitor general that his argument was “not selling very well.” Read More News New Mexico

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Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson on the rise

Gary Johnson
Carlsbad Current-ArgusFew noticed Gary Johnson's political fall. The former New Mexico governor hopes a country will watch him rise. Johnson, 59, still a stranger to much of America, hopes his visibility will start to increase this week if he wins the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party. Even various Libertarians who are not fans of Johnson concede that he is a lock to become their party's presidential candidate on Saturday in Las Vegas, Nev. A former Republican, Johnson quit the party in December because he said it abandoned him when he tried to run for president under the GOP banner. Johnson could not crack into the Republican presidential debates and his poll numbers languished. He sat on the sidelines as opponents such as Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann took the stage. Rather than accepting certain defeat as a Republican, Johnson switched to the Libertarian Party in December. He became its best-known presidential candidate as soon as he signed his Libertarian membership card. Johnson relishes his reputation as a skinflint with the public's money. He became famous for vetoing legislation and cutting budgets in New Mexico, where he was nicknamed "Governor No." One old rival says Johnson was always more Libertarian than Republican, though he disguised it for years. Read More News New Mexico

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Former Caveman Offered Contract With Bengals

From currentargus.com -Former Cavemen football player Bubba Forrest was offered a NFL free agent contract by the Cincinnati Bengals less than two hours after the NFL draft ended Saturday night.
The contract is not yet official, but both sides came to a verbal agreement with the details to be worked out in the coming days. Based on the new rookie wage scale, the most a rookie free agent can make is $20,000. Forrest, who graduated from Carlsbad High School in 2007 and went on to play for the University of New Mexico, said he received a call from his agent Everett Glenn about an hour and a half after the conclusion of the NFL draft informing him that the Bengals were interested. Not long after that Glenn called back to say an offer was made. "I was so excited," Forrest said. "I almost thought it wasn't real." The defensive back must now work to make the team's 90-man roster, which will eventually be cut down to 53 players and an eight-man practice squad by the start of the regular season.
Forrest said that former Caveman and NFL player John Wooten offered significant help to him throughout the entire process of landing an NFL contract. Wooten was not only able to get Forrest's name out to his many NFL contacts but also counseled Forrest in how to approach the process mentally, emotionally, physically and logistically. The former Caveman knows he has a long road and lots of work ahead of him before he makes the final cut but just having the opportunity makes him excited and proud.  More here

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Voting Records for Southern NM Legislators

From Insurance News -HB 1 Appropriated $20.1 million to fund the session and the year-round activities of the Legislature. (Passed unanimously in House and Senate.) HB 2 The main budget bill, it appropriated $5.6 billion to fund state government operations. (partial veto) (Passed unanimously in House. Passed 34-6 in Senate: Steve Fischmann yes, Mary Jane Garcia yes, Cynthia Nava yes, Mary Kay Papen yes, John Arthur Smith yes.) HB 10 Provides a $1,000 tax credit to employers who hire veterans within two years of discharge to a full-time job. (Passed unanimously in House and Senate.) HB 11 Allows a municipality's fire department to service an area adjacent and contiguous to its corporate limits. (Passed unanimously in House and Senate) HB 14 Establishes the six-year "K-3 Plus" pilot project as a permanent program to provide funding for additional educational time for disadvantaged students. (Passed unanimously in House and Senate)  More here
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New Mayor of Sunland Park Resigns

From krqe.com -The new mayor of the troubled southern New Mexico city of Sunland Park has resigned but hopes to be reappointed next week. Javier Perea's resignation on Friday came a day after Attorney General Gary King issued an opinion saying the City Council violated state open meetings law when they appointed him less than two weeks ago. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Perea immediately asked the Council to reappoint him in a way that meets King's requirements. "The city has the option to appeal the opinion and ask for a stay, but that is not the right thing to do for the people of Sunland Park," Perea said in a statement. "As such, I will accept the conclusion of the opinion and relinquish my title and the ability to perform in the official capacity as the mayor."  More here
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Governor's Grandfather Was a U.S. Citizen

Governor Martinez
From stltoday.com -Ever since taking office last year as the nation's first Hispanic female governor, New Mexico's Susana Martinez found her family tree scrutinized over whether her Mexican-born paternal grandfather was an illegal immigrant. Documents obtained by The Associated Press, however, show that he was lawfully admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident in 1918 and became a U.S. citizen in 1942, something not even Martinez knew and a discovery that removes a potential trouble spot for someone mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Mitt Romney. Martinez was surprised at the news, but maintained that his status, citizen or not, didn't affect her political views. "I embrace lawful immigration," she said. "I think it's what makes America wonderful." The first-term governor insists she's not interested in and wouldn't accept a spot on the GOP ticket.  More here
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Pearce to Attend Congressional Forum On Organ Mountains

Steve Pearce
Washington DC - Congressman Steve Pearce announced that he will be attending a Congressional Forum on the proposals for the protection of the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces, New Mexico. “The Organ Mountains are one of the true treasures in New Mexico,” said Pearce. “As a result, the protection of this landmark has become a broad political discussion. I have always supported the idea that we should not build on the Organs, as it is one of the signature landmarks of our district. There is no question that we must protect the land, but there have been distinct disagreements on how to best accomplish this.” “I have recently introduced H.R. 4334, legislation to designate the Organ Mountains as a national monument,” Pearce continued. “This allows for the protection of the land, but still gives room for public input by going through the legislative process. Additionally, it is not as restrictive as wilderness designation. The proposed lands have been deemed unsuitable for wilderness protection. While I believe that my legislation is the best solution, I look forward to hearing all of the proposals and hearing questions and concerns in an open forum with the public.” The forum will take place on Friday, May 4th at 3:00 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Farm and Ranch Museum, located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces. 


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Obama administration scraps child labor restrictions for farms

The HillThe Labor Department withdrew a proposed rule Thursday that would have limited the work that children can perform on farms. The proposal drew heavy criticism from rural-state lawmakers and agricultural leaders, who cast the rule as government overreach that would erode the traditional American family. Others in Congress supported the rule, and unions argued it was needed to make farm work safer for young adults.  In nixing the proposal, the Labor Department cited the need to protect "the rural way of life." "The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations," the Labor Department said in a statement announcing the withdrawal of the rule. "The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations." Read More News New Mexico

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UNM budget includes tuition increase

Farmington Daily TimesThe new budget for the University of New Mexico includes a nearly 4 percent tuition increase and higher student fees. UNM regents unanimously approved the $252 million instruction and general budget on Friday. It includes a 3.75 percent increase in tuition and a 5.6 percent increase in fees. Tuition will increase to $4,825 for undergraduates annually and $3,928 for graduate students. On top of that, undergraduates will pay $1,223 and graduates will pay $1,255 in fees. The tuition increase is necessary in part to help cover a one-time payment to employees whose pay comes from the instruction and general budget, officials said. University employees have not had a pay raise in three years. The final vote also includes a big increase in fees for athletics that all students pay. The preliminary budget that included the increase to $132 from $82 was the subject of student protests. The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/IrZlkk ) that even the student regent on the board approved that increase. Read More News New Mexico

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Alb. Hires Red Light Camera Company to Go After Ticket Scofflaws

From therepublic.com -The city of Albuquerque is hiring the former operator of its red light cameras to go after drivers who have ignored $13 million in outstanding fines. The city's decision to hire Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. ends the company's threat to sue the city over its portion of the unpaid fines. The red-light cameras ran for seven years but were shut off last year after voters opposed continuing the program. Redflex argued that its share of the outstanding fines totaled about $4.5. The Albuquerque Journal reports  Redflex will get a share of any money it collects, just as it did when the program was running. About 90 percent of those ticketed paid the fines. But about 100,000 tickets remain unpaid.
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Lujan-Grisham calls for Wiener to resign


Commissioner Michael Wiener (center)
From KOB-TV.com - By: Peter St. Cyr, Gadi Schwartz, 4 On Your Side  - A controversial photo showing a Bernalillo County Commissioner posing with bar girls in the sex capitol of the Philippines continues to shock the community. And, at least one colleague is calling on the former city councilor and state senator to resign. KOB’s investigative team was the first to confront Commissioner Michael Wiener about his visit to the well-known red light district. After hearing Wiener provide several different explanations about his trip, KOB’s 4 On Your Side team spent the day trying to confirm every version of the commissioner’s story. Wiener said he was only in the area for three or four hours and denied renting a room in the district overnight. "We went there to take a look… walk up Walking Street and then went to the airport," Wiener said. He claims he took his girlfriend to check the area out during a flight layover to Caticlan to visit his young daughter and said nothing inappropriate happened while he was in the island country. But a photographer, who is working on a story about sex tourism and who took Wiener’s picture in Angeles City, said he heard Wiener making inappropriate comments to the girls posing with him in the picture. Seattle photographer John Keatley also Wiener boasted about the hotel he was staying at because it catered to Americans open to a good time. Read more
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Swickard: Getting worse before getting better, if ever

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Try the Swickard Test in your community. Take two elementary schools, the one rated the very best and the one rated the very worse and switch entire staffs between the schools. Move the teachers, counselors, librarians, administrators, janitors and cafeteria workers entirely one school to the other. Then we will get an honest look at the staff and administrative effect. One day the school staff is either on the exemplary or the poop list. Then they are at the other school. In three years the effect of the staff will be seen, which is largely not that much. The best school will still be best and the worst school will still be worst. But educators will not try the Swickard Test because they instinctively know the outcome. The problem then shows that spending the lion’s share of your time getting more administration in the worst school is of no use. More administration and more tests and more fads does nothing to change the best to the worst or the worst to the best. Education after the Swickard Test has to admit that the differentiator of success in the schools does not happen to be in the professional staff.  Read column

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Feds Nab 28 NM Gang Members Linked to Trafficking

From Arizona Daily Star -Federal agents and local police have arrested 28 suspected gang members and associates in New Mexico as part of a national roundup of gang members linked to drug and human trafficking. Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations announced Wednesday that members and associates affiliated with the South Side Locos and Brown Pride gangs in Albuquerque, southern New Mexico and the Four Corner's region were in federal custody following a quick probe of the area.Authorities also seized heroin, cocaine and meth with a street value of close to $300,000. In addition, federal agents and local authorities seized more than a dozen or so illegal firearms and two expensive vehicles."This was a coordinated effort that resulted in the arrests of a number of high ranking gang members," said Dennis Ulrich, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge of West Texas and New Mexico. "We believe they were involved in drug trafficking and human smuggling." The roundup was part of a national operation known as "Project Nefarious" which nabbed more than 600 gang members with outstanding warrants across the country. Read more
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Intel Must Pay Penalty for Not Hiring in NM

From Oregan Live -Intel missed its local hiring targets last year at its New Mexico fab, the Albuquerque Journal reports. The Journal's report (which is behind the paper's paywall) says this is the third time in five years that Intel has failed to find at least 60 percent of new hires in New Mexico. From the Journal:
A report presented to Sandoval County commissioners by Intel government affairs manager Liz Shipley this week showed only 35 percent of the 349 employees the company hired in 2011 were state residents. The 60 percent hiring goal was one of the conditions the county set in 2004 when it approved a $16 billion revenue bond for Intel. Intel missed the goal in 2009 and 2006, as well. In 2009, 27 percent of its 11 new hires were from New Mexico. In 2006, 103 or 56 percent of the 185 employees hired were state residents.  Figures Shipley provided showed that overall since 1995, 63 percent of Intel's new hires have been from New Mexico. The Journal reported that Intel, which employs 3,500 at Rio Rancho, must pay the county $100,000 for educational initiatives as a result of missing its local hiring target.
More here
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US Cracks Down on Border Corruption

From foxnews.com -US state and federal agencies are cracking down on border town corruption as part of the larger effort to battle Mexican drug cartels.  That's a relatively new idea for Sunland Park, New Mexico, a small dusty city reeling from their latest scandal involving their mayor-elect, a topless dancer, and extortion. The only U.S. city on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande shed light on corruption that seems endemic to border towns thanks to a mix of small-town politics, an influx of corrupt government practices from across the border, and, of course, the rise of the cartels and their endless supply of cash. While much of New Mexico is west of the Rio Grande, this dusty enclave of 14,000 residents is the only U.S. city located on the Mexico side of the river, on the same side as — and just across the border fence from — Juárez.  Read more
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PRC’s Marks, Howe seek stay on San Juan clean up

San Juan Generating Station
New Mexico Business WeeklyNew Mexico Public Regulation Commissioners Jason Marks and Doug Howe are asking the parties involved in planning the environmental modifications of Public Service Co. of New Mexico’s aging San Juan Generating Station to voluntarily stay litigation until a third alternative can be developed that would begin to reduce the state’s reliance on coal generation. The 40-year-old coal-fired plant is in violation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze reduction rules for polluting the surrounding region, which includes Mesa Verde National Park and the Weminuche Wilderness Area. The EPA wants PNM to install pollution control technology at the plant, which PNM says will raise electricity rates and estimates will cost about $750 million to build. The state has been pushing its own solution, which it said would cost about one-tenth of the EPA project, while admitting it would also be less effective in meeting EPA regulations. Read More News New Mexico

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New Mexico receives $34M education grant

Houston ChronicleNew Mexico will receive a federal education grant of $33.8 million over seven years to prepare public school students for college and careers, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Wednesday. The state will target two dozen high-poverty middle and high schools, and an estimated 11,000 students in grades seven through 12 will be served. Schools can hire tutors and other personnel to help students prepare academically for college and assist them in financial planning to cover the costs of attending a post-secondary school. "Reforming education in New Mexico requires us to invest in identifying struggling students and getting them the help they need," Martinez said in a statement. The recipient schools are: Pecos Middle School and Pecos High School; Tse Bit Ai Middle School and Shiprock High School; Los Alamitos Middle School and Grants High School; Coronado Middle School and Coronado High School in Gallina; San Diego Riverside Middle School and Walatowa High School in Jemez Pueblo; Jemez Valley Middle School and Jemez Valley High School in Jemez Pueblo; Los Lunas Middle School and Los Lunas High School; Ortiz Middle School and Capital High School in Santa Fe; Garcia Middle School and Mora High School; Penasco Middle School and Penasco High School; Red Mountain Middle School and Deming High School; Cochiti Middle School in Pena Blanca, Santo Domingo Middle School in Santo Domingo Pueblo and Bernalillo High School. The state Department of Higher Education obtained the federal money through a competitive grant program operated by the U.S. Department of Education. Read More News New Mexico

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PPP’s polling raises some eyebrows; favorability numbers for NM Governor shift 6 points in just days

Capitol Report New MexicoIs there something funny going on with the surveys Public Policy Polling (PPP) is releasing here in New Mexico? PPP is a national outfit associated with the Democratic Party. The North Carolina-based firm doesn’t hide that fact but insists it doesn’t allow its rooting interest for Democrats and liberal causes interfere with its polling data. Republicans often cry foul when PPP numbers show GOP candidates and issues in less than favorable light — that’s natural in the zero-sum game of politics. But conservatives complain that PPP surveys aren’t just snapshots of elections and issues but, rather, an attempt to advance talking points to try to shape opinion and influence the media. “They’re not so much a polling organization as they are a group of people trying to establish a narrative,” one statewide Republican official who preferred not to have his name used told Capitol Report New Mexico this week. PPP Director Tom Jensen has said that’s simply whining. “It’s fine with me if your readers want to not believe our polls,” Jensen told the conservative magazine The National Review in 2010, “but we have no history of cooking the numbers for Democrats.” But a couple issues have come up in polling that PPP released this week for New Mexico. For example, on Wednesday (April 25), PPP released some numbers about the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney race. While releasing the numbers, Jensen declared in a news release that “New Mexico is not going to be a swing state this year,” pointing to its survey showing President Obama with a 14-point lead in the state over Romney. Read More News New Mexico

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New Mexico off to 10th driest start in 2012

CBS NewsNew Mexico saw little measurable moisture during the first three months of the year, and with less water coursing through the state's rivers, farmers are beginning to feel the pinch again this year as they scramble to find ways of watering tens of thousands of acres of cropland. Forecasters with the National Weather Service and state and federal officials addressed the lack of moisture during a regular drought meeting Wednesday in Albuquerque. This is nothing new for a state that has seen more dry starts than wet ones for the last 12 years. So far this year, forecasters said New Mexico has seen less than half of its normal precipitation. Last year, it was even worse. "Only 2010 and 2005 were wet starts to the first three months of the calendar year, so basically we should be getting used to this dry start thing," said meteorologist Ed Polasko. New Mexico and Texas, two of the hardest hit states last year, are now not alone in 2012. National drought maps show dry conditions creeping across a bigger portion of the West, as well as parts of the upper Midwest and the entire East Coast. By mid-April, not one speck of land in New Mexico had escaped categorization as either abnormally or exceptionally dry — or somewhere in between. Read More News New Mexico

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Pearce Honors 64th Anniversary of Israel's Independence Continues Support for Israel

Steve Pearce
Washington D.C. -  Today, Congressman Steve Pearce released the following statement, continuing his support for H. Con. Res. 115, which recognizes “the 64th anniversary of the independence of the state of Israel:”
 “It is important that we recognize Israel’s freedom and independence and continue to support our strongest ally in the Middle East,” said Pearce. “Israel is the freest nation in this volatile region. As the situation in the Middle East continues down a path of instability and danger, we must stand by our stalwart democratic ally. America has no greater friend in the region than Israel, and I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation.”


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New Mexico Sheriff Faces 2 Probes for Trying to Block DWI Arrest

ABC NewsNew Mexico's attorney general and a county district attorney are investigating to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against a sheriff caught on audio tape trying to force a deputy to release his friend from a DWI arrest. "We are looking at criminal wrong doing to see if there are any criminal charges to follow through on," Mora County District Attorney Richard Flores told ABCNews.com. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said his office is just starting to look into the case. "I expect that our office will take some action because it's really not acceptable to me to have a law enforcement officer directing his subordinates to give different people different treatment under the same law," he said. The two prosecutors are referring to a dispute when Mora County Sheriff's Deputy Lee Allingham says he was battered April 7 by Mora County Sheriff Thomas Garza after arresting Patrick Trujillo for DWI, according to a report by New Mexico State Police. Read More News New Mexico 

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Wiener faces scrutiny after visiting Filipino sex district

Commissioner Wiener and entourage
KOBA Bernalillo County Commissioner with a history of making inappropriate sexual comments in Albuquerque may be in more trouble half way around the world. A Seattle photographer, who has been documenting sex tourism in the Philippines, told KOB’s 4 On Your Side team he had a disturbing conversation with Commissioner Michael Wiener in Angeles City, the second largest sex tourism city in the world. Photographer John Keatley has posted several pictures he took of Wiener standing with four scantily clad bar girls last month on his Internet blogWeiner said nothing inappropriate happened and that he and his girlfriend were just walking through the district, waiting to catch a plane out of the city. Keatley claimed he heard Wiener make a racy comment to the girls. “He basically said right when he got up to have his picture taken with the girls, ‘Hey don't touch my penis... Ah hah just kidding - you can touch it.’” Wiener denied saying that. “I may have made a comment like don't get too close to my girlfriends here, but I didn't mention anything like that,” Wiener said. Keatley also claimed the commissioner also told him to relax and enjoy the ‘walking street.’ “He told us what a good time could be had in Angeles City if you just opened yourself up to it,” Keatley said. The photographer also said it appeared Wiener seemed to know the district well. “He was trying to get us to switch our hotels because this other hotel we were staying at would really cater to us having a good time. It was very wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” Keatley said. “He seemed surprised that we didn’t have girls yet. It was kind of like, come on- open your self up have a good time kind of thing.” Read More News New Mexico

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Hot dog vendor faces felony charges for attacking rival

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - There is a wiener war steaming up between rival hot dog vendors in downtown Albuquerque, and it boiled over into violence Monday. The front lines are the sidewalks in front of Metro Court. The business is hot dogs. The trade is highly competitive. Police said Eric Kilmer rammed his hot dog cart into a rival vendor and ran over his legs and feet. Kilmer is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon - a felony. He was not at work Wednesday morning, but one of his employees stuck up for him. "See, I respect him, dude, I respect him a lot and I don't care what anyone says, dude, that's how I feel, dude," the employee said, adding that what happened was really an accident that got blown out of proportion. "Like you know I'm a family man, dude, you know, I got a little girl and I'm trying to make my money, dude, and it's just an accident that came out of proportion, dude. That's all I'm gonna say." Vincent Montoya, the victim in the case, didn't  Other vendors said they are mortified about the attack, and worried about the impact on their businesses. Read more
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The Democrats’ "Occupy" guru has an interest-free student loan

Elizabeth Warren
From Human Events - by John Hayward - The ideological guru of the “Occupy” movement is Democrat Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leftist hard enough to cut glass with her ideology. Her big contribution to the “income inequality” debate was arguing, in a famous viral video, that since no one can prosper without using public resources, the State rightfully owns all wealth and property. Rich people benefitted disproportionately from those public resources, so there is no morally defensible upper limit to what the State can decide to take from them. It was soon discovered that Warren is yet another liberal blowhard who doesn’t “walk the walk,” Warren is stumping for President Obama’s new “student loan initiative,” in which a self-destructing bill written and passed by Democrats in 2007 – without the vote of Senator Barack Obama, who didn’t bother to show up when it was being voted on – would be extended to keep student loans at an artificially low rate of 3.4 percent. Right on cue, Warren’s opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown, noticed that Warren herself has an interest-free student loan from Harvard. As reported in the Boston Herald: Warren disclosed the 20-year interest free loan from Harvard, which lent her between $15,000 and $50,000 in 1996, in financial disclosure forms filed with the Senate last September. “Let me get this straight: struggling students and families pay more, so multi-millionaire Warren can pay nothing? This sweetheart deal adds insult to injury for the students whose high tuition costs have already made Warren a wealthy one-percenter, and reveals yet again Professor Warren’s hypocritical idea of fairness,” wrote Brown’s campaign manager Jim Barnett. Read column

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Farming in the past for real ‘down-home’ taste

Mischa Popoff
From NMPolitics.net - Commentary by   - As a former organic farmer, take my advice and DO NOT buy anything from any farmer who claims to use horses. A horse is less than a hundredth as efficient as the smallest diesel tractor. A horse releases more pollution into the atmosphere because it eats, farts and poops all year long while a tractor is shut off when the work is done. Growing feed for horses requires more farmland, which means less natural habitat and yet more pollution. Old-timers can attest that almost half of all farmland used to be set aside just to grow feed for horses. What’s so green about that? We now basically use 100 percent of our arable farmland to feed humans, and that’s a huge leap forward that we simply cannot afford to take back! There are many examples of such modern-day Luddites masquerading as valiant organic protectors. The worst are those who not only brag about using horses, which they claim cut down on fuel, but who also believe windmills and solar panels have a place in the business of producing food. I have just one question for these people: Are you all nuts? Read column

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Report: Sante Fe Cleanest Air in the Country, Las Cruces One of the Worst

From krqe.com -A new report shows Santa Fe has the cleanest air in the nation but Las Cruces has joined the 25 worst-polluted cities. Santa Fe came in with the purest air in all three categories of the yearly American Lung Association report released Wednesday. The categories include particle pollution, short-term particle pollution and ozone pollution. Albuquerque made the list of the 25 cleanest cities for both short-term and annual particle pollution. 
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