Swickard: Tragedy stalks the bold young men

Commentary by Michael Swickard - Know this: the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman had absolutely nothing to do with race nor police work or gun control. The shooting was caused entirely by the bold young men syndrome.  Every day there are plenty of news stories about fist, knife and gun fights among bold young men that end in tragedy. These deaths are caused by the inability of young men to step back from a confrontation. They charge head first into the confrontations as if honor were more important than life itself. To them maybe it is. Viewing the shooting in Florida through the lens of bold young men, it is easy to see how this situation happened. But bold young men theory is of no use politically since from the beginning of time young men have been bold and reckless, leading to needless deaths.  Long after the television lights of this story have gone somewhere else we have the ability to learn something from this needless death. There are three issues: first, one step back and there would have been no story. Secondly, this is much more about the demons inside these two young men than about societal demons. Finally, sadly, the next generation of young men will be just as bold and reckless. They also will die needlessly. Read column


Border Patrol Agent Charged With Gun Smuggling

From chron.com - Authorities say a West Texas Border Patrol agent and his girlfriend are in custody after they were charged with conspiracy to buy firearms and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition to be smuggled into Mexico.  Ricardo Montalvo and Carla Gonzalez-Ortiz, both of El Paso, Texas, were arrested Monday after a federal grand jury returned a 20-count indictment. They're accused of acting as straw purchasers of at least nine firearms between November 2010 and January 2011, along with more than 100 high-capacity magazines and thousands of high-caliber bullets of the type used by Mexican cartels. They're also accused of knowing the munitions would be exported illegally to Mexico.
Court documents list no attorneys for the pair.  Montalvo had been on administrative desk duty since the investigation started in January 2011.


NM Graduation Rate May Drop Again

From kob.com -An already low graduation rate for New Mexico may be dropping even lower.  Under a federal mandate, the state is changing how graduation rates will be calculated. Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks said graduation rates could be significantly lower than before, possibly up to 20 percent but emphasizes that this does not mean more students are dropping out of school. It is simply a brand new formula for how graduation rates are calculated that may affect the numbers. Most recent data from the Department of Education shows for the class of 2010, about 65 percent of APS students graduated. This compares to about 67 percent at high schools statewide.
But this rate did not include certain groups of students. Under the new federal mandate, officials said there will be no more excusal for those groups which include pregnant, incarcerated or special needs students who were previously allowed additional time to graduate.  More here

NM Independent Voters Blocked From Primaries

From kob.com -Early voting starts in a month for New Mexico's primary election - an election thousands of registered voters will not be allowed to vote in, even though their tax dollars are helping to pay for it. They are independent voters, those who "decline to state" a party preference in the lingo of the state election code. They are about 190,000 strong in New Mexico right now, but they cannot cast ballots in the Democratic and Republican primaries that they help pay for.  Independents make up about 17 percent of the state's registered voters, and that's quite a chunk when you add the three percent or so who register in so-called "third parties".  But the law says only Democrats get to vote in the Democratic primary and only Republicans get to vote in the Republican primary, and longtime election watchers don't expect that to change anytime soon.  More Here

Johnson: Romney-Martinez would be 'Palin-esque'

Gary Johnson
PoliticoMitt Romney may be able to win New Mexico if he chooses Gov. Susana Martinez as his running mate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said. But beyond that, the Republican-turned-Libertarian sees little value in putting his successor on a national ticket. “This is a Sarah Palin-esque kind of choice. She’s served as governor of New Mexico for about the same amount of time,” Johnson said. “I think there were lessons learned [from 2008.]” Martinez, one of the rock-star GOP governors elected in 2010, has been viewed as a politician with national potential due to her reformer's profile and potential appeal to Latino voters. The former county prosecutor has mostly avoided the D.C. spotlight so far. If Johnson has his druthers, it'll stay that way. The former governor said he recently watched the HBO film “Game Change” – and previously read the book – and thought the whole Palin experience reflected terribly on John McCain for choosing an underprepared running mate for political reasons. “I thought it was an incredible indictment” of McCain, Johnson said. UPDATE: A Republican reader emails to point out that -- in addition to whatever other differences Martinez has with Palin -- the New Mexico governor has firmly ruled out running for the vice presidency in 2012. She said just this week: "I'm totally, completely focused on being governor and fulfilling my promises ... It's humbling, but I'm not interested." Read More News New Mexico 


Luevano kicked off ballot for NM House race, takes shot at Maestas

Johnny Luevano
Capitol Report New MexicoAn Albuquerque judge said he had sympathy with retired Marine Corps Capt. Johnny Luevano and his bid to run for the state House of Representatives but ruled that the Republican candidate is ineligible against Democrat and incumbent Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas in this fall’s election. “If intent was the issue, this court would have no problem” ruling in favor of Luevano, District Court Judge Alan Malott said, but pointed out that by statute, a candidate has to have established residence in the district he or she chooses to run in by March 6 of this year and Luevano and his family had not received a certificate of occupancy for their their newly-constructed house on Albuquerque’s Westside until March 13. Therefore, Judge Malott, ruled in favor of Rep. Maestas, who had filed suit to keep Luevano off the ballot. The short hearing had its testy moments. At one point Luevano argued with Maestas’ attorney Ray Vargas while a few minutes later, Luevano’s attorney, Mark Jarmie, called some of the accusations that Maestas made in his formal complaint against the Iraq veteran as “beyond the pale.” After Malott rendered his decision, Jarmie asked the judge to declare that Luevano did not act in violation of a statute regarding the falsifying election documents. Vargas had no objection and the judge said “the court very emphatically” reiterated that Luevano “acted with the best of interests and motivations.” Read More News New Mexico  


LANL selects three New Mexico firms for environmental work

New Mexico Business Weekly - LANL awarded a “master task order” agreement for the work to ARS Cavanagh Environmental Services LLC, Portage Inc. and Navarro Research and Engineering Inc., said Andy Baumer, program manager for the lab’s Environmental Programs Waste Projects and Services.“These companies have the demonstrated safety records and expertise to meet stringent federal requirements for treating and disposing of waste,” Baumer said. “They will be valuable partners in the lab’s ability to dispose of the waste safely and efficiently.” Tasks will include preparing waste containers for shipment, loading the containers onto trucks, transporting them to disposal locations, and ensuring that shipments comply with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. Under the master work agreement, the lab will either assign work to the three companies, or ask them to bid on tasks. Waste materials will include soil removed from cleanup sites, debris from demolished buildings and chemical or other hazardous wastes. Read More News New Mexico


Govenor's PAC Raises Over $300K Since October

Gov Martinez
From kfoxtv.com -A new campaign finance report shows Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's political action committee has raised about $335,000 in the past six months.  The governor's political organization called Susana PAC released a fundraising summary on Monday showing it had cash-on-hand of about $295,000 last week. The PAC spent nearly $342,000 from early October through April 2. Monday was the deadline for political committees to file campaign finance disclosures with the secretary of state. All 112 seats in the Democratic-controlled Legislature are up for election this year and Republicans hope they can pick up seats in the House and Senate. Martinez's gubernatorial campaign committee reported a cash balance of nearly $467,000 last week. Martinez is not up for re-election until 2014, but her campaign committee has raised nearly $232,000 since last October.  More here

Heather Wilson Fundraising With Lisa Murkowski

Heather Wilson
From huffingtonpost.com -Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is flying from Alaska all the way to New Mexico to hold a fundraiser for fellow Republican Rep. Heather Wilson. Republicans are hoping Wilson will be able to take over a U.S. Senate seat for the party in that state.  The luncheon fundraiser will take place Tuesday in Carlsbad, N.M., and will cost at least $1,000 to attend, according to the invitation. Both parties have high hopes for filling the seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat. Wilson is expected to compete against Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich. Polls show a tight general election race between the two.  Murkowski recently made national headlines for criticizing her party for its focus on reproductive rights. "It makes no sense to make this attack on women," she said on KBBI AM's "Coffee Table" program, according to the Homer News. "If you don't feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters." Murkowski, who is one of a dwindling number of pro-choice Republicans in Congress, also said that she would continue to support funding for Planned Parenthood. More here

Why We Need Voter I.D. Laws Now

National Review - Attorney General Eric Holder is a staunch opponent of laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls to improve ballot security. He calls them “unnecessary” and has blocked their implementation in Texas and South Carolina, citing the fear they would discriminate against minorities.
I wonder what Holder will think when he learns just how easy it was for someone to be offered his ballot just by mentioning his name in a Washington, D.C., polling place in Tuesday’s primaries.
Holder’s opposition to ID laws comes in spite of the Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision in 2008, authored by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, that upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s tough ID requirement. When groups sue to block photo-ID laws in court, they can’t seem to produce real-world examples of people who have actually been denied the right to vote. According to opinion polls, over 75 percent of Americans — including majorities of Hispanics and African-Americans — routinely support such laws.
Eric Holder
One reason is that people know you can’t function in the modern world without showing ID — you can’t cash a check, travel by plane or even train, or rent a video without being asked for one. In fact, PJ Media recently proved that you can’t even enter the Justice Department in Washington without showing a photo ID. Average voters understand that it’s only common sense to require ID because of how easy it is for people to pretend they are someone else. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Forecast predicts dismal runoff for NM

Las Cruces Sun-News - Gary Esslinger's chosen profession, delivering irrigation water to southern New Mexico farmers, looks like some sort of cruel joke these days. The latest punch line came this week in the form the federal government's April Rio Grande runoff forecast, which calls for just 29 percent of normal spring and summer runoff into Elephant Butte Reservoir. That's the reservoir that supplies water to farmers in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, in the Hatch and Mesilla valleys of southern New Mexico. Esslinger, the district's general manager, faces the unhappy task of going back to his farmers next week and telling them to expect even less than the meager allotment they had been counting on. "The business that I'm in, of supplying surface water, is kinda like going out of business," Esslinger said Thursday. This week's preliminary forecast, after a hot, dry March, showed a drop from expectations just a month ago that New Mexico State University hydrologist Phil King called "pretty catastrophic." "Things in one month basically just went away," said Rolf Schmidt-Petersen, Rio Grande basin manager for the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. Low elevation snow is largely gone, and much of what has already melted has soaked into soil left bone dry from last year's drought, rather than flowing into New Mexico's rivers, King said Thursday. The latest weekly federal Drought Monitor showed an expansion of dry conditions, with the entire state ranging from "abnormally dry" in the northwest to "exceptional drought" in the southeast. The federal forecast calls for 151,000 acre feet of water flowing into Elephant Butte between now and the end of July, which is the main snowmelt runoff season. That is 29 percent of the 1971-2000 average, which federal managers define as their long term "normal" for water management planning purposes. Read More News New Mexico


Fill Up at Home?

NewsNM note - If you have natural gas in your home you have the basic infrastructure to fill up your car with fuel that costs about 60 cents a gallon.
Business Insider - CNBC's Rick Santelli will be making some noise on Monday. He plans on demonstrating to the world that cars can easily be converted to run on natural gas. Remember, Santelli arguably started the whole Tea Party movement with his famous rant about paying for his neighbors' mortgage. Santelli was interviewed by King World News: "But, being somewhat of a mechanic by hobby, I had an idea several weeks ago. I’m from the Midwest and I remember lots of guys I went to college with, in Champaign, telling me how they converted various vehicles, trucks, tractors, on the farms to natural gas, and it was no big deal. Well, we’re drowning in natural gas. To me it should be the energy that every politician should be pushing. I think we could have an energy revolution, create boatloads of jobs, have lower energy (costs) and cleaner energy. So, to that end, this Monday I am going to be in Oklahoma City at CNG Industries...
What I’m going to do personally is drive in a brand new Ford, F-150, 5-liter V-8, that runs on gas, and convert it to run both on natural gas and regular gasoline. I will then drive it out on natural gas by the end of the day, probably during one of the afternoon shows."
Read full story here: News New Mexico