State senator defends ALEC, the conservative group the left loves to hate

Bill Payne
Capitol Report New Mexico - If you want to get someone on the political left riled up, just mention the word “ALEC.” No, not Alec Baldwin or Alec Guinness but the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC). It’s a political group that’s been around for nearly 40 years that tries to push conservative policies. On its website ALEC says the organization is made up of ”state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” Liberal groups have called ALEC “reactionary and racist” and in this election year, the attacks from the left have intensified as critics of ALEC have pressured corporations and state legislators to resign their memberships. And it’s happening here in New Mexico. Early this year, a well-documented dustup in a Santa Fe restaurant left a woman who was a guest of a  Roundhouse legislator with an eye injury after some Occupy Santa Fe protesters burst into a dinner hosted by ALEC. Now as primary elections for state House and Senate races heat up, Democratic primary opponents are calling on fellow Democrats who have attended ALEC functions to disavow the group. “I don’t think [ALEC] needs to be defended,” Sen. Bill Payne (R-Albuquerque) said in a recent interview with Capitol Report New Mexico, adding, “I think it’s been hijacked and used as a foil by some far left groups to hang a lot of baggage on because they need something during the election cycle to energize their base.” The left’s base has been energized, in particular due to the Trayvon Martin case and the “stand your ground law” that ALEC supported and helped pass in Florida. ALEC legislation has also backed voter ID laws, a hot-button issue for Democrats who think such laws keep minorities and likely Democratic voters away from the polls. Read More News New Mexico


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Bush official helps with NM health plan

Michael Leavitt
KRQEGov. Susana Martinez has asked a former Bush administration official to help plan a state-run health insurance plan for New Mexico. The New Mexico Human Services Department announced Thursday a contract with a consulting firm founded by Michael Leavitt, former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush. A state official tells the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/M2VafW) the former Utah governor's firm has been assigned to help New Mexico set up a health insurance exchange. The firm will will also help write a request for bid proposals to build the exchange's computer framework. The exchanges are meant under the federal government's health care reform law to help more people obtain health insurance. New Mexico has the nation's second-highest uninsured rate in the nation. Read More News New Mexico

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Report sees NM economic impact from federal cuts

BusinessweekA report by legislative agencies says future federal spending cuts could hamper New Mexico's economic recovery. The latest economic summary by the Legislative Finance Committee and Legislative Council Service says 2013 federal budget proposals call for substantial spending reductions or slowing the budget's growth rate. The agencies said "the negative impact of federal budget cuts will likely be broader and deeper in New Mexico than in most other states." That's because New Mexico ranks sixth in per capita federal spending -- nearly $13,600 per person in 2010. The report said "New Mexico's ability to continue its slow but steady economic recovery" will depend heavily on future federal spending. Revenues in the state's main budget account were up about 6 percent during the first seven months of the current fiscal year. Read More News New Mexico

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NM sees more white supremacist gangs

KRQE New Mexico's prisons have seen a rise in white supremacist gang membership as some inmates seek protection against largely Hispanic gangs, according to state officials. State numbers show that membership in white supremacist gangs has doubled in prisons during the past 10 years, and state officials worry the numbers may keep climbing. "Membership is increasing in white supremacist gangs affiliated with those in Texas and Arizona," said Dwayne Santistevan, administrator of New Mexico's Security Threat Intelligence Unit. "We think they're banning together for protection against Hispanic gangs." The start estimates there are about 160 inmates connected to white supremacist gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood and Nazi Low Riders. Ten years ago, state prisons had only around 60 to 70 members connected to such gangs, Santistevan said. "The gangs are getting their membership from inmates from Farmington, Carlsbad, Ruidoso and Alamogordo," Santistevan said. "It's kind of puzzling." Santistevan said at least two Hispanic inmates had been identified as belonging to a white supremacist gang. Prison officials can easily identify members of such gangs through tattoos of swastikas, Hitler's birthdate and other racist symbols. Still, white supremacist gang membership is small compared to the overall gang population in New Mexico prisons. Of the 6,500 inmates in those lockups, 40 percent are connected to mainly Latino gangs. Read More News New Mexico

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Gov. Martinez accompanying NM goodwill ambassadors on weeklong trip to promote the state

Susana Martinez
Washington PostNew Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is traveling to the East Coast and the South with a nonprofit civic group to promote the state. The governor’s office says Martinez will leave Sunday with the New Mexico Amigos for a weeklong trip that includes stops in Maryland, Alabama, Georgia and Texas. The New Mexico Amigos is made up of business, community and state leaders who pay their way, and for the governor, to travel to promote economic development, tourism and other opportunities in New Mexico. This is the 50th anniversary of the Amigos’ first trip. The group will visit the Washington area, including the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and a Secret Service training facility in Laurel, Md., and travel to Auburn University in Alabama, Atlanta and San Antonio, Texas. Read More News New Mexico

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Eric Holder Belongs in Jail

Jim Spence
Attorney General Eric Holder belongs in jail. His recent claims to friendly members of the media that he has actually complied with Congressional subpoenas related to Operation Fast and Furious are bald-faced lies. Holder has provided congressional investigators with nothing but misleading and irrelevant information. If a private citizen behaved in the same fashion as Holder he or she would be jailed for contempt.
Eric Holder
In a crime involving the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent by people using weapons supplied by the Department of Justice, Holder in Nixonian fashion insists on investigating himself. He has turned over tens of thousands of pages of documents, but not to Congress. Instead he has given them to his own internal inspector general. Many of the documents Holder has provided to Congress have been so heavily redacted they have been rendered meaningless to investigators.
Murdered Agent Brian Terry
Eric Holder has a sworn duty to respond in full to a subpoena issued on October 12, 2011. He has ignored thirteen different categories in the subpoena and has provided no documents in critical areas of the investigation.
This Attorney General's main qualification before taking the reins at the DOJ was doing pro bono work defending al Queada terrorists. He was not qualified to be the chief law enforcement officer of the United States to begin with, and he has quickly become a disgrace to the country. Now Holder is obviously obstructing justice and covering up criminal behavior. He should serve time for his deliberate violation of federal subpoena laws.

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Union Continues Political Attacks on Education Reform

According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal union representatives of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation are continuing their political assault on Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera.
Union representatives, famous for claiming they support concrete steps to improve education, have never managed to give their approval of any plan that involves a teacher evaluation system.
Amazingly, in the Journal report ATF President Ellen Bernstein suggested that there should be criticism of Skandera for her support of charter schools. Charter schools have been a lone bright spot in New Mexico’s dismal education performance since 2003. Nearly ten years ago the state threw hundreds of millions of dollars at teacher and principal salaries only to see academic achievement continue to decline.
With this report it becomes even more clear that union officials, who purportedly "represent" teachers, continue to take positions that prevent practical solutions to New Mexico's education problems.

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Pearce Votes to Restore Defense Budget Heinrich and Lujan Vote No

Yesterday, Congressman Steve Pearce voted in favor of H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. Thd legislation stops the across-the-board budget cuts that resulted from the Super Committee’s failures in November 2011. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan voted against the bill.
In a press release Pearce said, “The failure of the super committee to reach an agreement under the Budget Control Act forces significant cuts to defense at a time when we are fighting two wars and defending American interests. I will not turn my back on our troops in harm’s way. When I served in Vietnam, we faced this type of situation—and we had to face a war without support. I made the commitment to our troops that I would vote to protect them, and I will keep that promise. The legislation passed today keeps the promise to our troops while cutting and reforming duplicative or wasteful government programs,” Pearce continued. “There is no reason we cannot cut .7% in federal healthcare spending over 10 years. It is also time that federal employees’ retirement benefits are brought in line with the private sector. Finally, we can eliminate $4.3 billion a year in tax fraud by closing the loophole which allows child tax credits to those who are ineligible to work in the United States.”
Heinrich provided no explanation for his vote. Ben Ray Lujan posted this comment on his website describing the bill. "Congressman Ben Ray Luj├ín of New Mexico’s Third District voted today against a measure aimed at implementing House Republicans’ budget plan that calls for deep cuts to vital services for middle-class families while protecting defense spending and tax breaks for the richest Americans."

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Astorga Legal Team Fights Death Penalty

KOB - Blood dominated the testimony Thursday in the death penalty trial of convicted cop-killer Michael Astorga. Astorga's defense is that he's the wrong guy, not the shooter. It didn't work in his murder trial two years ago but it might work now to keep him out of the death chamber. Astorga testified Wednesday. On Thursday it was his turn to listen to crime scene experts for the defense. They're trying to undermine the case against him for the March 2006 shooting of Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy James McGrane.
A major question - why weren't there any blood-spatters on Astorga's truck if he's the one who pulled the trigger?
"I'm close enough to the wall here, that if I get a through-and-through shot, or if his honor shoots me, we're going to get spattering occurring on this wall," crime scene analyst Lawrence Renner said as he explained bloodstain analysis for the mostly female Santa Fe County jury. "That's one of the things the bloodstain patterns can do in the reconstruction process." It's hard on McGrane's family and friends to hear and see the graphic evidence, but they endured it all the way through Astorga's murder trail two years ago that ended in conviction. Read full story here: News New Mexico
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