Border town grows into founder's dream

Santa Teresa Port of Entry
KRQEThe original developer's grandiose dream for turning this wide-open swath of desert into a modern, bi-national industrial hub complete with country clubs and residential neighborhoods filled with workers was written off years ago as just another border boom gone bust. But some 40 years after the idea was born, this still unincorporated community that has long been dominated by El Paso and Juarez is beginning to make its bankrupt founder's vision appear prescient. Situated 40 miles south of Las Cruces, New Mexico's second largest city, Santa Teresa has become a U.S.-Mexico border development hot spot. It is literally a stone's throw across the border from computer and electronics manufacturing giant FoxConn, which operates Mexico's largest border assembly plant, or maquiladora. Then there's the $400 million rail hub being developed by Union Pacific on 2,200 acres on the U.S. side of the border. There are new roads on both sides of the border and an expanding border crossing that enables commercial carriers to avoid the congestion between Juarez and El Paso. Some Mexican companies are relocating north to escape the drug violence in their country, and a trend continues toward moving some manufacturing from Asia to Mexico. Combine that with thousands of acres of still available open land and Charlie Crowder's dream seems within reach. Read More News New Mexico


Obama administration makes a play for support in battleground state of New Mexico

Janet Napolitano
Houston ChronicleCall it an election-year economic stimulus along the U.S.-Mexico border — or a convenience for citizens of Mexico who frequently travel into the United States to shop and visit family. The Obama administration has unveiled plans to widen the so-called border zone into the United States from 25 miles to 55 miles in New Mexico to enable Mexican citizens with border crossing cards to reach interior communities without completing cumbersome, time-consuming paperwork.  The standard border zone along the 1,969-mile U.S. Mexico border has been 25 miles  into the United States. Officials extended the border zone in Arizona to 75 miles in 1999.   The border zone in Texas and California extends only 25 miles into those states. The Department of Homeland Security said the proposed change in federal regulations would enable border card holders to travel up to 55 miles into New Mexico to the towns of Deming and Las Cruces, N.M., “stimulating commerce, trade and tourism activity in the area.” “The proposed extension of the border zone in New Mexico, when finalized, will provide significant economic benefits to many of the smaller communities along the border while maintaining ample safeguards to prevent illegal entry into the United States,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano was twice elected governor of Arizona before taking over leadership of the Department of Homeland Security. The change means that Mexican citizens with the expedited travel border crossing card won’t need to fill out the U.S. immigration form I-94 to go beyond the 25 mile border zone. Read More News New Mexico


A New Mexico experiment aims to fix the doctor shortage – no new doctors required

Washington PostSanjeev Arora is a Albuquerque-based physician who focuses on the treatment of Hepatitis C patients. Back in 2003, he wasn’t an easy guy to get a hold of: Patients waited eight months to nab a spot on his schedule. “Patients would make about 12 to 18 trips for treatment, and each one might be 200 miles,” Arora recalls. “These people were very sick. And we started asking, why is this happening and how can we fix it?” The explanation was simple: Arora was among a handful of Hepatitis C specialists in New Mexico, which put his services into high demand. The solution was a bit more complicated. Arora started wondering whether some of the care he delivered, largely diagnosing Hepatitis C and monitoring subsequent treatment, could be delivered by primary care doctors elsewhere in the state. It would save patients the long trips across the state, not to mention free up Aurora’s own schedule. Arora reached out to primary care doctors across the state and found 21 that were interested in additional training on how to treat Hepatitis C themselves. They began holding weekly video-conferences, where the primary care doctors peppered Arora with questions about diagnoses and a subsequent treatment plan. Then, they went back to their clinics and delivered the care themselves. Read More News New Mexico


Fake audit leads to two arrests, including the COO of the NM Finance Authority, for “cooking the books”

Capitol Report New Mexico - The NMFA controversy is now officially a criminal matter. On Wednesday morning (Aug. 8th) officers with the state Security Division arrested the chief operating officer,John T. Duff, of the New Mexico Finance Authority and a former controller at the authority, Greg Campbell, accusing them of submitting a forged audit, misrepresenting financial statements and trying to cover up $40 million in losses. “I think it sends a message that we’re serious and we’re pressing forward in finding out what happened here,” J. Dee Dennis Jr., Superintendent of the State Regulation and Licensing Department, told reporters Wednesday morning. The two arrests come one month after it was learned that the NMFA, which essentially acts as a bank for municipalities and agencies across New Mexico for funding bonds and infrastructure programs, had filed a fake audit in fiscal year 2011. The news of the bogus audit has caused Wall Street ratings agencies to consider lowering the bond ratings for the state, which could lead to taxpayers having to pay millions of dollars more in increased interest payments. Read More News New Mexico


Auditor’s Office Missed Red Flags at NMFA

Hector Balderas
Albuquerque Journal - Top managers and board members of the New Mexico Finance Authority bear ultimate responsibility for the authority’s fake audit for 2011. Still, it’s reasonable to ask whether the office of state Auditor Hector Balderas should have realized something was amiss at the Finance Authority months, if not more than a year, ago. After all, there were signs of a problem. Balderas announced July 12 that his office had discovered the forged audit in questioning why the authority hadn’t submitted its 2011 audit to his office.
His announcement came nearly seven months after the Finance Authority was legally required to submit the audit. And it had been 13 months since the authority had failed to meet a deadline to have a firm under contract to conduct the audit and to seek contract approval from the Auditor’s Office. Read full story here (subscription required) News New Mexico

Rancho Cucamonga Will Do Hatch Chile Roast

Patch - The Albertsons in Rancho Cucamonga is planning a one-day chili-roasting event on Aug. 18 to celebrate the beginning of Hatch chili season. The grocer chain is billing the event as its closest chili-roasting to the Redlands-Loma Linda area. Hatch chilies are grown along the Rio Grande in the Hatch Valley area of New Mexico, north of Las Cruces, where they've been holding an annual chili festival since the 1970s.
The 41st Annual Hatch Valley Chile Festival is scheduled Sept. 1 and 2, 2012. The event near Redlands and Loma Linda is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Saturday Aug. 18 at the Rancho Cucamonga Albertsons, 8850 Foothill Blvd., and it will continue "until supplies last," a spokeswoman for the grocer chain said. Considered New Mexico's preeminent chili pepper, Hatch Chilies are favored across the country in restaurants that serve spicy Southwestern cuisine," Lilia Rodriguez of Albertsons Southern California said in a statement distributed Tuesday. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Martinez Gets Two Supreme Court Choices

New Mexico Supreme Court Building
KRQE - An independent commission on Tuesday recommended a pair of veteran Albuquerque lawyers, a Democrat and a Republican, to GOP Gov. Susana Martinez for possible appointment to the New Mexico Supreme Court for what could be a very short tenure.
The judicial nominating commission unanimously recommended former Justice Paul Kennedy, a Republican who is a prominent criminal defense lawyer, and career prosecutor Steven Suttle, a Democrat who worked for 14 years in the attorney general's office before retiring in 2010.
Suttle also served as an elected district attorney in Oklahoma before moving to New Mexico to become a prosecutor in the district attorney's office in Albuquerque in 1991.
They were the only applicants for a court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Patricio Serna, who is retiring at the end of the month after serving 16 years on the five-member court. The commission made its recommendations after interviewing the two lawyers.
This is the first opportunity for Martinez, a former prosecutor, to name someone to the state's highest court and her nominee will serve until the winner of the November general election takes over. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Is Obama Campaign Team Scripting Quotes For New Mexico Business Owners to "Say"

Alamogordo Daily News - Is President Obama's campaign team scripting quotes for business owners who are helping in his re-election bid? Mahen Gunaratna, New Mexico-Arizona communications director for the Obama campaign, declined to answer that question Tuesday after he distributed separate press releases containing strikingly similar quotes from two businesspeople, one in Santa Fe, the other in Albuquerque. Both statements criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The Obama campaign issued the following statement that it said was from Patricia Arens, owner of Valley Spring Rentals of Santa Fe:
"The reality is that you can't cut your way to prosperity. His (Romney's) plan would gut critical investments in education, training and infrastructure so he can give more tax breaks to millionaires like himself and companies that ship jobs overseas."
In a second press release issued 25 minutes later, Gunaratna attributed this quote to Croft Elsaesser, owner of American Clay Enterprises in Albuquerque.
"Unlike Gov. Romney, the president knows we can't cut our way to prosperity or gut critical investments that we need to succeed....."
How was it that business owners in two different cities used the same description of Romney and his purported intentions?
In a telephone interview, Gunaratna said Arens and Elsaesser "signed off" on the quotes distributed by the campaign. Asked if they actually spoke the words attributed to them by the campaign, Gunaratna said he had "no other comment." Read full story here: News New Mexico


Big changes coming to failing New Mexico schools

From - By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Big money and possibly big changes are coming to failing schools across the state. Governor Susana Martinez made the announcement at an education workshop in Albuquerque Tuesday afternoon, addressing ways new that funding will give schools with the lowest scores the chance to turn things around. The state set aside $3.5 million dollars specifically for improving failing schools, and Martinez made it clear - New Mexico is putting money where it is needed most and that is back toward helping bottom of the barrel schools. There are currently 319 schools in New Mexico with a "D" or "F" letter grade. These failing schools are all encouraged to apply for the state funding and prove how they plan to use the money to change their school around in order to qualify and actually receive it. New Mexico currently ranks among the bottom in the country for education. Martinez made it clear, if is a school or district wants to change that, it is going to take a whole new approach and looking toward those who have shown it works. "It is going to take dedication and it is going to take hard work and a desire to leave behind what is not working... and that takes courage," Martinez said. Read more