Mexican Journalists Seek More Protection

Journalists in Juárez demonstrated during the weekend as part of protests across Mexico asking authorities to do more to safeguard members of the news media and freedom of the press. A demonstration on Saturday in front of the Mexico attorney general's office building in Juárez coincided with a march of more than 1,000 journalists in Mexico City. The demonstration was to "condemn the constant aggression we have been subject to in this climate of insecurity and violence in the entire country," stated the Juárez Society of Journalists and Communicators. Read more here:

Waters Charges Spelled Out by House Panel

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Cal)
Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- A congressional ethics panel accused California Democrat Maxine Waters of bringing discredit on the House of Representatives by helping get government assistance for a troubled bank in which her husband held stock. After Waters was warned by Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank to refrain from helping OneUnited Bank, she broke three House rules by failing to stop her chief of staff from providing such aid, the committee alleged. Read more here:

Blackouts More Commonplace

(CNN) -- New York's Staten Island was broiling under a life-threatening heat wave and borough President James Molinaro was seriously concerned about the area's Little League baseball players. It was last July's Eastern heat wave and Consolidated Edison was responding to scattered power outages as electricity usage neared record highs. Read more here:

Back to Government For MORE

Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac is asking for $1.8 billion in additional federal aid after posting a larger loss in the second quarter. Freddie Mac said Monday it lost $6 billion, or $1.85 per share, in the April-to-June period. The company is required to pay a 10 percent annual dividend to the Treasury Department on money it has received from the government. That made up $1.3 billion of the company's second-quarter losses. The company lost $840 million, or 26 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. The government rescued McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae from the brink of failure nearly two years ago. The new request means they have needed $148.2 billion to stay afloat, about $63.1 billion of which is being used by Freddie Mac. Read more here:


Sharon Thomas - Road Extension

Sharon Thomas
City Councilor Sharon Thomas issued the following comments regarding the stalled Special Assessment District process that has effectively ended the construction of a four lane thoroughfare beginning at Thurman Road and extending two miles north to Arroyo Road on North Sonoma Ranch Boulevard.
NewsNM Finding # 1. An order was placed for an expensive property appraisal which included the agreed upon properties in the SAD. The appraisal was completed and paid for. Thomas: Yes, an appraisal is necessary.

NewsNM Finding # 2. A tentative funding commitment for the entire project from the New Mexico Finance Authority was obtained. It had nothing to do with any credit rating of the City of Las Cruces Thomas: This commitment was based on the excellent credit rating that the city has. If the SAD goes to the NM Finance Authority, they will do a detailed investigation into the developer’s financial status. Many of the questions at the April work session were about that issue.
NewNM Finding # 3. The $1 million reimbursement to LCPS from the Special Assessment District continued to be contingent upon the fulfilling of all agreements reached by all parties in January.
Thomas: There is no $1M reimbursement to the LCPS. It is my understanding that such a reimbursement is not allowed by the SAD legislation. I am told that LCPS and the developer were both given this information early on. Therefore, that issue was never before the city council. Also, as stated in today’s LCSN (Las Cruces Sun-News), the school district has always been committed to paying for their portion of the road ($300,000 +) and the utility connections.
NewsNM Finding #4. At the April City Council work session, essentially all agreements were voided and the good faith efforts collapsed when it became clear that every councilor except the mayor had developed a "new" position. These new positions were clearly based on the unsigned and misleading memo distributed to councilors. The city and the developer received communication from the New Mexico State Land Office that the state land could not be included in the SAD without a very time consuming lawsuit so it was left out of the proposal which was accepted by the New Mexico Finance Authority.
LCPS Herb Torres
Thomas: The April session was an information only session. The January resolution states the following: Resolution No. 10-200: A Resolution Declaring the Intent of the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico (The "City") to Form and Implement a Special Assessment District (The "District"), to Fund Street and Utility Improvements for a Two Mile Portion of North Sonoma Ranch Boulevard and to Levy Assessments on Real Property Benefitting from the Improvements to
Pay the Costs of the Improvements and the District. Note the phrase “levy assessment on real property benefiting from the improvements.” Some of the property that will benefit was not included in the proposal.
NewsNM Finding #5. Ironically it was Herb Torres of LCPS who pointed to the fact that Las Cruces citizens will now get precisely what these councilors claimed they wanted to avoid...a temporary low grade, colonias-style, maintenance plagued road, instead of four-lane major arterial roadway at the end of North Sonoma Ranch Boulevard.
Thomas: The “temporary” road is being constructed according to city standards and when further funding is available, the other lanes and multi-modal facilities will be added. This portion of the road is not “temporary” and it will not be torn out.
NewsNM Finding #6. Worse yet, this low-grade road will not be completed in time for the opening of Monte Vista Elementary. Worst of all, LCPS will lose the entire $1 million reimbursement from the business people who were ready to finance the now dead road project.
Mayor Ken Miyagishima
John Moscato
Thomas: Once again, there is no reimbursement available. In addition, a SAD is not financed by a group of business people. It is financed by an assessment on property, a tax that will be collected from builders and/or residents when they purchase the property. It’s not money from the private sector. There are no “business people” ready to finance the road project. Also, if the developer should fail to make payments on the SAD, will the city have to foreclose on the properties and sell them and make the payments?
NewsNM Finding #7. The New Mexico Finance Authority certifies the SAD not the Las Cruces city council. They just have the city staff administer the SAD as is set in law. In every SAD the New Mexico Finance Authority provides the funding and a local entity, in this case the City of Las Cruces administers the funds locally.
Thomas: In order to protect taxpayers, we need to be absolutely certain the developer can be successful and can sell the properties and can make the SAD payments so that the rest of us do not end up with that debt. We have received many complaints about Moscato not finishing projects and leaving people with flooding problems and broken promises (no clubhouse). As fiscally responsible councilors, we need to know what Moscato’s financial situation is. Can we trust him to get the construction up and running and lots and homes selling so that there is revenue to pay back the bonds? Generally, a developer can borrow money from private sources to fund the roads in a new development.
NewsNM Finding #8. The city of Las Cruces administers the SAD locally, the New Mexico Finance Authority makes the financial decisions as to making the SAD money available.
Thomas: Why is it that Moscato needs to use the city’s credit rating and the help of the NM Finance Authority to get funding for this road? If it’s such a sure thing, then the private business entities (business people) ought to be eager to help. If the city signs on to the SAD is that like a parent co-signing with a teenage child for a car loan?
NewsNM Finding #9. There is a huge disconnect between the facts that we at NewsNM found in our interviews and the statements of Las Cruces City Councilor Sharon Thomas.


Tres Amigas Superstation

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - Phil Harris is masterminding an electricity superhighway — a facility near Clovis that will connect the nation's three main power grids for the first time. The Tres Amigas Superstation will link the Western Interconnection, Eastern Interconnection and Texas Interconnection at a point in southeastern New Mexico. It also will provide the transmission capacity that power managers say is needed to handle the renewable energy expected from new solar and wind sources. The hub will allow energy to flow between the grids via superconductor cables in underground pipelines and AC/DC converters. The multifacility project will be built on 22.5 square miles of land leased from the New Mexico State Land Office. Read more here:

Star Parker - Ground Zero Mosque

Star Parker
The “Ground Zero” Mosque project should not go forward and let’s hope that Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf that is behind this $100 million project gets this message and backs off. But given what he is hearing from the liberals in New York, including the city’s Mayor, the congressman in whose district Ground Zero sits, and the New York Times, it’s hard to be optimistic that he will change his mind. Opposition to the Mosque is being portrayed, as the New York Times editorial page put it, as abandoning “the principles of freedom and tolerance.” But the Times makes its own tenuous grasp of reality clear as it goes on in its editorial embracing the Mosque and Islamic Center to say that “The attacks of September 11 were not a religious event.”


City vs. Moongate

From the Las Cruces Sun-News LAS CRUCES - The phrase used numerous times in recent years when it comes to describing the growth of Las Cruces still applies. "He who controls the water controls the growth." The fight for water appears to be heating up again as city officials have begun the process that may eventually lead to the condemnation of Moongate Water Co. through eminent domain. City officials claimed last week that Moongate is capable of expanding its water service operations by as much as five times its current size, and that could severely diminish future reserve water supplies for the city. Read more here: