And the redistricting price tag keeps growing — now the figure is $8 million

From Capitol Report New - Earlier this week, we reported how the initial cost for legal fees in the redistricting hassle here in New Mexico came to nearly $3 million. Then a couple hours later, we received a phone call from an official at the Legislative Council Service telling us that adding in other legal costs and assorted fees, the figure was really $5.4 million – “at least,” the official told us. Now, three days later, Barry Massey of Associated Press has tabulated the costs of everything — including the special session the legislature convened last September to supposedly hammer out a redistricting agreement. The price tag for taxpayers now? Nearly $8 million. Read more

State government foul-up puts brakes on trucking company

From the Alamogordo Daily News - By Milan Simonich - SANTA FE -- Gov. Susana Martinez talks all the time about creating a business-friendly state. This week she learned that her own administration caused roadblocks for a small trucking company that had just made a major investment. The problem, a routine title transfer for a new $143,000 semi-trailer, took more than two weeks to complete. The truck could not be driven all that time, putting J.A.P.S. Freight Lines in a financial bind. "I've got a $2,500 payment coming due for a truck that I haven't been able to get on the road. The downtime is terrible for us," said Joe A. Parra, owner of the company. He and his business partner, Elizabeth Sosa, said dealing with state government was a maddening experience. Desperate to obtain the vehicle title he needed to do business, Parra said he traveled to state Motor Vehicle Division offices in Las Cruces, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. He left each one empty-handed. So problematic was this title transfer that the governor's staff eventually phoned Sosa to assure her that the problem would be corrected. It finally was on Thursday, two days after that call from the top office in state government. Mark Williams, director of the state Motor Vehicle Division, said his agency fumbled this case.  "It should not have happened," Williams said in an interview. Read more

My How the Tune Changes

Washington Times - President Obama's administration doesn’t see the need for defense contractors to warn employees about possible layoffs from across-the-board budget cuts, but in 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama railed against employers for failing to notify workers who were in danger of losing their jobs.

“The least employers can do when they’re anticipating layoffs is to let workers know they’re going to be out of a job and a paycheck with enough time to plan for their future,” Mr. Obama said in a news release on July 17, 2007, while campaigning for president.
The Obama administration said Monday in guidance from the Labor Department that federal contractors don’t need to warn their employees that they could lose their jobs because of the looming budget cuts that are slated to begin Jan. 2. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Egolf on Santa Fe Studios: "I think Javier might want to think about just putting this issue to rest"

Commentary by Jim Spence -Santa Fe County and the State of New Mexico provided millions of dollars in funds and other valuable considerations for private developers to build a privately owned movie studio in Santa Fe in 2009. The terms of the government-financed scheme were nothing, if not remarkably brazen. Somehow Santa Fe county commissioners and the New Mexico state government (under the command of Bill Richardson and a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate) agreed to give Santa Fe Studios partners, who were using Javier Gonzales (the State Democratic Party Chairman) as a "consultant," the following: free land, free water utility hookups, a $10 million grant, and a $6.5 million loan. The package was worth more than $20 million. Why would taxpayer dollars be used for this?
Javier Gonzales
Somehow using the influence of Gonzalez (for which he was paid a still undetermined consultant fee) Lance Hool, Jason Hool and Conrad Hool convinced elected officials and/or decision makers that it was in the “public interest” to construct this particular facility to “lure Hollywood producers to New Mexico.”
Javier Gonzales has said he has now “detached himself” from the project. However, he has repeatedly refused to disclose the amount of his consulting fee for arranging the conveying more than $20 million in taxpayer assets to the Hool brothers.
Several ethical questions come to mind. Was this good stewardship of state and county taxpayer dollars? Was it reasonable or ethical for a State Democratic Party Chairman to be paid for brokering a $10 million grant, a $6.5 loan, free land, and free utility hookups from government entities where he is presumed to have so much political influence?
Representative Brian Egolf
Would this be the sort of opportunity that is available to everyone in New Mexico, including those who are not well-connected politically? Will there ever be full disclosure forthcoming from Mr. Gonzales regarding his financial involvement.
We interviewed Representative Brian Egolf on News New Mexico recently and asked him directly about the lack of disclosure and transparency of the Santa Fe Studios deal. Though generally loyal to his party chairman, even the staunch Democrat Brian Egolf had this to say on the subject, "Well, I think Javier might want to think about just putting this issue to rest and maybe the disclosure itself is the best way to do it."
Gonzales continues to dodge the media on this question. Why wouldn't Gonzales want to make a full disclosure? There would seem to be a range of possibilities. For Democrats there should be a call on the public address system for a "cleanup needed on aisle #1."


Solyndra's: "Bank of Washington"

Chris Gronet (left) with "Bank of Washington" Obama
Daily Caller - Solyndra’s CEO labeled President Barack Obama’s administration “The Bank of Washington.” Chris Gronet offered the description in an internal email one year before the company collapsed in 2010, costing taxpayers roughly $500 million. The email was obtained and published by the Republican National Committee. “The Bank of Washington continues to help us!” he wrote in the October 2009 e-mail, which sketched plans for Solyndra to exploit several additional federal programs and tax-incentives. “Some names fit,” said Darrell Issa, the GOP chairman of the House Oversight Committee. “Using the name of ‘Bank of Washington’ has a legitimacy that I think will transcend this election,” he said in a Thursday press conference called to highlight the Solyndra email. Read full story and see copy of the email here: News New Mexico

Mass Murder in China: 8 Dead 5 Wounded, Will Beijing Pass Tougher Knife Control Laws?

Xinhua - A teenager killed eight people with a knife and wounded five more in northeast China after falling out with his girlfriend, state media said Thursday.
The teen killed two of her family members and six more people before fleeing, the state-run Legal Daily newspaper said. It reported he was caught but did not describe the circumstances.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the attack took place Wednesday night in Liaoning province. Media said the 17-year-old suspect is from Fushun city and his surname is Li. The attack happened in Yongling town. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Martinez in Colorado for GOP Govs Meetings

Susana Martinez
KRWG - New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has traveled to Colorado to meet with other Republican governors and then will raise money later in the week for a gubernatorial candidate in Washington state.
Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey said the governor left New Mexico on Tuesday for Aspen to attend the quarterly meeting of the Republican Governors Association. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Search Warrants Executed at NMFA

KOB - A state securities regulator has obtained a search warrant to seize documents and materials at the New Mexico Finance Authority involving a fake financial audit distributed to investors.
Regulation and Licensing Department Superintendent J. Dee Dennis said Wednesday the authority has been cooperating with the investigation by the Securities Division and the search warrant was done to preserve evidence.
A search warrant affidavit said investigators sought financial statements, accounting schedules, bank records as well as other documents such as email of authority staff and governing board members. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Write Bingaman About Wind Energy, Get a Response About the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Jeff Bingaman (left)
It would appear that Senator Jeff Bingaman might have waited a bit long to retire after actually announcing his retirement. Earlier this week we were copied on a letter sent to Bingaman regarding wind energy. The Bingaman staff must be too busy sending out resumes to read communications from consitutents or make sure the right canned response goes to the right constituent. Here is the letter to Bingaman:
Please do not support a renewal of the Production Tax Credit for Wind Energy should it come up in the next days.
I am a meteorologist with a keen interest in the environment, but the promises of wind energy made for many years have not been kept. I have been a student of the promise of renewtable energy for 40 years. Wind energy is expensive, intermittent, unreliable, and a killer of bats and birds which help keep insects under control. It is noisy and does not contribute to energy security, and in fact it makes the power much more expensive than energy from nuclear, gas and coal.
If wind energy was going to be a positive influence into our power grid, it would have done so in the >30 years it has been subsidized. Please help pull the plug on this waste of my taxpayer money.
And here is Senator Jeff Bingaman's response:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I appreciate your taking the time to write.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 and signed by the United Sates in 2009. The convention seeks to elaborate in detail the rights of persons with disabilities and set out a code of implementation. It sets broad goals of autonomy, equality, and accessibility. On July 26, 2012, the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations voted to report the convention to the full. Please be assured I understand your concerns about the convention, and will keep your comments in mind should this treaty come before the full Senate for ratification. Again, thank you for writing. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of issues of importance to you and your community.
Actually the net effect of this sort of treatment of citizens is not much different than being completely ignored. Many have written to Senator Bingaman before and pretty much everyone always gets a canned response. As his career winds down Senator Bingaman and staff are simply sending the wrong canned responses to the wrong voters.


Reese family members acquitted on 24 of 28 counts; three found guilty of making false statements

NewsNM Swickard - They filled paperwork out wrong? A year in jail and all assets seized and the best the government can do is two forms out of thousands over the years were not filled out correctly? Sad. Where is the Fast and Furious justice in the USA? From the Las Cruces Sun News - By Brian Fraga - A federal jury Wednesday convicted three members of a Deming family for making false statements on ATF forms during an undercover federal sting last year at their firearms store. Ryin Reese, 24, was convicted of two counts of making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms while his father, Rick Reese, 56, and mother, Terri Reese, 49, were each convicted of one count. The counts stemmed from three sales in June 2011 and July 2011 at New Deal Shooting Sports in Deming, where a government informant and undercover federal agents posing as straw purchasers bought firearms and ammunition. Jurors acquitted the four defendants on all counts of conspiracy, gun smuggling, and five other counts of making false statements. Ryin's brother, Remington Reese, 20, was acquitted on all counts, and was immediately released from custody. Meanwhile, Terri Reese remains free, while Rick and Ryin Reese are in federal custody. Sentencing will be at a later date in U.S. District Court, where Judge Robert C. Brack ordered a pre-sentencing report. Each false statement count carries a two-to-five year sentence in federal prison. Read more


Martin Heinrich makes Esquire’s best dressed list

From  Capital Report New - This month’s issue of Esquire magazine has a collection of 17 of the best-dressed politicians on Capitol Hill and Rep. and Senate candidate Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) makes the cut. Here’s what the men’s style magazine said about Heinrich:

The list was bi-partisan, with Democrats like Vice President Joe Biden and congressman Charlie Rangel joining Republicans such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Speaker of the House John Bohner. There’s a famous phrase that says Washington DC is Hollywood for ugly people, but in 2009, Heinrich topped the list of the 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill. The Huffington Post joined in on the fun that year, proclaiming the freshman one of Washington’s hottest.The Esquire nod doesn’t figure to make any difference in Heinrich’s race against Republican Heather Wilson this November but then again, it can’t hurt. Read more


Judge rules against federal government in local groundwater case

From the Las Cruces Sun News - By Diana Alba Soular - After a day full of testimony from nearly all the heavy hitters in the local water industry, a state judge ruled Wednesday the U.S. government doesn't have a stake in Doña Ana County groundwater after all. Judge James J. Wechsler decided the federal government's water rights in the Rio Grande Project — an irrigation region that covers Doña Ana and El Paso counties — are limited to the surface water component. He left open the door, however, for some further refining of what makes up that surface water right. The federal government and two Texas entities lined up against the state of New Mexico and a number of other New Mexico-based water users, who argued the U.S. had no valid groundwater stake. Debate centered upon whether Rio Grande water — which winds its way from the river, to farmland, to beneath ground level, to above ground and eventually back to the river — should be legally considered surface water or groundwater. Federal officials contended they had at least some formal ownership in local groundwater because it's physically tied very closely to the flow of the Rio Grande — where the federal government already has a recognized claim to water.  Read more


LANL braces for protests in bomb anniversary

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - Several groups of activists will gather around Los Alamos National Laboratory over the next few days to commemorate the anniversary Monday, Aug. 6, of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The lab warned employees this week to be ready for two days of demonstrations. Past protests have included marches and largely ritualistic acts of civil disobedience, but laboratory officials anticipate something more this year. Lab employees were instructed “to remain calm, drive safely and follow all official directives regarding detours or access to the lab,” and not to “engage in confrontations with the demonstrators.” Read more