NM task force eyes anti-gang plan as problems grow

From the Santa Fe New Mexican.com - by Russell Contreras (AP) - ISLETA PUEBLO — Hundreds of community activists, social workers, tribal officials and police officers came together Thursday on the Isleta Pueblo to develop a plan aimed at attacking New Mexico's growing gang problem -- a serious problem state officials say is under the radar to most New Mexico residents.  Organized by the New Mexico Gang Task, the coalition of public and nonprofit advocates tried to foster new ideas on gang prevention and helping gang members leave gangs, especially in the most violent areas of the state. The coalition met at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.  According to the FBI, New Mexico has one of the highest rates of gang members per 1,000 residents in the country. In addition, state officials say gangs in prisons, like the rising Burquenos gang, are causing problems with violence and drug activity among inmates and pose additional headaches for prison officials.  Around 40 percent of the state's 6,500 inmates are affiliated with gangs, state officials say.  read more
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APS students jump ship to charters

From KRQE-TV.com - Albuquerque Public Schools will be losing millions of dollars next year as hundreds of student leave the district for other schools. Many of those leaving are heading to charter schools in record numbers. Charter schools have been around in New Mexico for more than a decade, but more and more are popping up. And more and more APS students are choosing to transfer to charters. Nearly 800 students next year will leave the district with the majority moving to charter schools. "Most of our students are, yes, from APS," said administrator Scott Glasrud of Southwest Learning Center. He said there is a long waiting list to get into Southwest Learning Center, an Albuquerque charter school. read more

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Torrance County Commission says state auditor violated disclosure rules

State Auditor Hector Balderas
From KOB-TV.com - By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - The Torrance County Commission alleges the New Mexico State Auditor violated his own rules when he gave an interview to 4 On Your Side reporter Chris Ramirez. The commission voted yesterday to send Auditor Hector Balderas a scolding letter. "I would like to send a letter of complaint to the state auditor," said County Commissioner Lonnie Freyburger. "I believe he is in violation of that policy and I would like for the county to send a letter of complaint to the state auditor that we don't like it." Freyburger believes Balderas gave findings of an audit into questionable contracts to the media before giving the findings to the county. Freyburger believes that is a violation of state rules. Balderas said he hasn’t revealed findings of the audit to the media because the audit isn’t complete. Balderas thinks the commission is resisting efforts from his office to look into how commissioners spend public money specifically, why $700,000 worth of contracts all went to one vendor. It’s a question many in Torrance County have asked.
Balderas said once he started asking questions, the county commission stiffed armed him. read more

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Swickard: An effective incentive for graduation

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - The Lottery Scholarship pays tuition for certain New Mexico students and despite all of the hoopla, it is only a semi-good idea. For one thing, the primary idea should be to get the students to graduate. College is supposed to be an Alumni Mill, cranking out Alumni in increasing numbers. This being graduation time, that is what we focus on. But the Lottery Scholarship is focused on attendance. The incentive is to go to college, not graduate. When you graduate the money stops. Picture this: at each graduation, before awarding the degrees, some names are drawn. There are the usual dinners and car washes but then comes the better prizes. Several (lucky?) students get free tuition on their next degree. Even better, several get their student loans paid in full. Then will come the moment that has caused all of the media attention. One lucky graduate each graduation gets one million dollars paid over twenty years. I bet that would spice up the ceremony. How the entry tickets are calculated is even better. Every college credit a student takes translates to one entry so changing majors several times is not quite so bad, as long as the student eventually graduates. Further, they could even get three tickets for each A, two for each B and one for each C. Sorry, nothing for a D. On a larger scale, perhaps the school leaders would factor more tickets for harder degrees. Electrical Engineers would be envied because they earn ten times the number of tickets for each A as someone in a "less demanding" program. At graduation one student may have accumulated 5,000 entries while a classmate only has 1,000. Again, only those who finish get to be in the drawing. Each college would be reinforcing graduation rather than just time spent in college. Read column


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Race against friend -- 'I hate it'

Dennis Kintigh
Milan SimonichRoswell GOP primary is clean, but frustrating for candidates. Campaigning against a bitter enemy might be bad. State Rep. Dennis Kintigh says running against a close friend is no picnic either. "I hate it," Kintigh (far right) said today of his Republican primary race against fellow state Rep. Bob Wooley. Redistricting placed them into competition with one another in Roswell-based House District 66. Kintigh said cementing support is difficult under these conditions. Many voters decline to commit, saying they like both candidates and are reluctant to choose. He has been in the state House of Representatives for two terms.
Bob Wooley
He shares an office at the Capitol with Wooley, a first-term lawmaker who was appointed last year by Gov. Susana Martinez to fill a vacancy. Kintigh attended a committee meeting at the Capitol today, then hurried home to campaign.He said he never thought about dropping out of the race, despite his friendship with Wooley. "I've got definite ideas on public policy, and I want to pursue them," said Kintigh, 60. He favors term limits for legislators and wants a public vote on whether New Mexico should reinstate the death penalty for the worst crimes. For Wooley, 65, this campaign is a triumph in itself. He went through chemotherapy during the last legislative session to treat follicular lymphoma. He decided to run in the primary only after doctors said his cancer was in remission. Kintigh and Wooley are the only sitting lawmakers paired against one another in a primary. Read More News New Mexico

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NM Rep. Heinrich introduces password protection bill

Martin Heinrich
The RepublicNew Mexico Congressman Martin Heinrich is pushing legislation that would prohibit employers from forcing current or prospective employees to share passwords to their private accounts on sites like Facebook. The Password Protection Act of 2012 was introduced Wednesday by Heinrich and fellow Democrat Ed Perlmutter of Colorado. A similar measure was introduced in the Senate. Heinrich says that "employers demanding Facebook passwords or confidential information on other social networks is an egregious privacy violation and should be against the law." He notes that personal information like race, religion, age and sexual orientation is often accessible on social networking profiles. The congressmen say the bill preserves employers' rights to set policies for how work computers are used. Read More News New Mexico

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Shame on Smear Merchant Corwin and His PAC

Michael Corwin
New Mexico’s biggest and most notorious smear merchant, Michael Corwin is at it again. His target this time isn’t a Republican, it is a Democrat. Unfortunately for Democratic Party challenger Cara Valente-Compton, her great sin is to challenge the state’s biggest political buffoon, Sheryl Williams Stapleton in New Mexico House District #19. For her efforts to give voters a choice in the Democratic primary, Valente-Compton has attraccted the attention of Corwin’s absurd distortion vehicle Independent Source PAC. In recent days Corwin has mounted one of the most outrageous attacks on a would-be public servant we have ever seen.
Cara Valente-Compton
As Valente-Compton’s has made an effort to defend herself from one of the nastiest hatchet jobs in New Mexico political history, Corwin’s Independent Source PAC has tried to tie her to Susana Martinez. Amazingly, Corwin justifies his assault by claiming he is defending "minority voting rights." And the champion of his minority sensitive cause is non other than Sheryl Williams Stapleton the woman who was once referred to our Governor as “the Mexican on the fourth floor.”
Democrats should be questioning why Corwin’s darling could possibly be someone as notorious as Sheryl Williams Stapleton. But so far the Democratic Party remains silent while ISPAC pounds away.
Sheryl Williams Stapleton
Corwin is nothing if not relentless. He has had the sheer audacity to accuse Valente-Compton and her campaign manager, Steve Cabiedes, of knowingly and willingly engaging in “voter suppression of minorities and financially disadvantaged voters.” He did so in commentary posted at NMPolitics.net. You can read his rant here.
Democrats would do well to distance themselves from smear merchant Corwin and his favorite political bully Sheryl Williams Stapleton. General election voters are wising up to the win at all costs tactics of Williams Stapleton and ISPAC. Their outrageous smear tactics against a fellow Democrat reflect poorly on anyone who is willing to tolerate them.

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NM Finance Authority approves $3.5M for water projects

New Mexico Business WeeklyThe New Mexico Finance Authority is funding four drinking water projects using $3.5 million from its revolving loan fund. The city of Tucumcari received $1.5 million to replace its 70-year-old water storage tank and install new water meters. The Lower Rio Grande Power, Water and Wastewater Association will use $600,950 to install and replace about 3,400 manual-read meters with meters that can be read via radio in DoƱa Ana County. The city of Bayard will do a similar project with $392,539 from the revolving loan fund. The Southside Mutual Domestic Water Association in San Juan County will install an ultrafiltration system using $797,900 from the fund. The loans are part of an effort by the state to promote funding for projects that improve water quality, said Denise Baker, chair of the Finance Authority board of directors, in a news release. Some borrowers qualify for a zero percent interest rate and forgiveness on as much as 75 percent of the principal amount if they meet certain criteria, such as “disadvantaged community” or “green project” status. Read More News New Mexico

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Another NM Judge Has A Problem

KOAT - FARMINGTON, N.M. - A New Mexico district court judge could be in hot water for a comment he made after a restaurant refused to serve him. Farmington police said San Juan County District Court Judge Thomas Hynes lost his temper with the manager at Three Rivers Brewery when the bar refused to serve him. The bartender thought Hynes had already had enough to drink. Police said Hynes had bloodshot, watery eyes and alcohol on his breath. "I had a drink. I had a drink before I got there," Hynes said. The police report said the judge became agitated when the manager pointed his finger at him and told him to leave. "It wasn't one of my finest moments, and I lost my temper and I did," Hynes said. "I said, 'If you stick that finger in my face one more time.'" Police said the judge told the manager that he'd break off his finger and shove it somewhere unpleasant. It's something that Hynes doesn't deny. Read full story here: News New Mexico

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Pearce Backs USPS New Plan Rural Plan

Yesterday, Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement after the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that they will not seek to close rural post offices, but instead reduce hours at some locations:
Steve Pearce
“This is great day for our rural New Mexico communities,” said Pearce. “Local rural voices across southern New Mexico deserve the credit for holding Washington’s feet to the fire. I am proud to have stood with them in this fight, and I am pleased with the outcome. Closing facilities would have negatively impacted local communities and businesses, and our rural communities should not be saddled with carrying the weight of knee-jerk reactions to systematic mismanagement by the Postal Service. I hope that USPS will continue to look at long term structural and financial solutions that do not place rural areas as an across-the-board target. Their decision to keep these facilities open benefits many across New Mexico’s Second Congressional District, and I will continue to fight for the well being of those in our local communities.”

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