Williams - Obamacare Already Hitting Our Wallets

Armstrong Williams
Six months ago, the health care reform bill became law. Prior to its passage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condescendingly announced, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." President Obama also assured Americans that health care “reforms will finally reduce the costs of health care Families will save on their premiums.” Read more here:

Las Cruces City Council - Meeting Summaries

City Council Work Session and regular Council meeting held on Monday, October 18, 2010.
Work Session: This session was convened to allow the New Mexico Attorney General’s office to make a presentation on Electronic Equipment Applications at Public Meetings in regards to any potential conflict with the recently passed Council resolution banning emails, texting, and cell phone use in Council meetings and the Open Meeting Act (Sunshine Law).
· Al Lamas, Deputy Attorney General said the current Open Meetings Act Compliance Guide represents 25 years of case law. He stressed that “rolling quorums” are specifically prohibited and that the Council cannot circulate emails between themselves concerning any issue, agenda item or issue concerning the City. Receipt of emails during Council meeting violates the Open Meeting act unless they are made public during the meeting. His office provided copies of the Compliance Guide to the members of the Council and the public.
· Randy Van Flect, Legal Council for the Municipal League discussed the quasi-judicial process and potential legal conflicts for the Council and that the Council cannot consider itself solely a Legislative body. It is in fact all three (Legislative, Executive, and Judicial) and therefore must be held to the same standards as the judiciary.
· Both presenters stressed that the presenters and the public expect that the Council members use common sense and focus on paying attention to only the information present during the meeting rather than being distracted by doing simultaneous research. The Council should be involved in a thoughtful listening process. Their job is to interpret and evaluate that information presented so that they can make the appropriate decisions. If they feel they don’t have sufficient information it is incumbent upon them to table the discussions.
· Councilors Thomas, Sorg, Pedroza, Small and Silva “still don’t get it” and continued to claim that they needed access to email information from experts and constituents during the meeting and potentially violating the law.
· Only Mayor Miyagishima and Councilor Connor seem to comprehend the law.
· The recent resolution passed by the Council prohibiting emails, texting, and cell phone use by Council members meets the legal test and is appropriate.
· Mayor Miyagishima thanked the Attorney General’s Office for their presentation and adjourned the meeting. Regular Council Meeting -Presentations and Proclamations:
· The “Pets of the Week a shepherd mix was presented.
· The City of Las Cruces was awarded a Silver LEEDS Award Certificate for energy efficiency in the construction design of the new City Hall.
· A proclamation was read that declared October 29-30 as NAACP Conference Weekend.
· October was proclaimed as National Cyber Security Month.
· A proclamation was read that declared October 31st as Great Pumpkin Candy Drop Day and recognized Richard Weaver’s efforts in creating and continuing the program.
· Brian Gilbert, DDS, Bright Star Dental, was recognized and November 1st was proclaimed as Bright Star Dental Candy Buyback Day. All proceeds will support military programs overseas.
· The City Finance Department was presented a Certificate of Achievement by the New Mexico Governments Finance Officers Association, their highest award for Financial Reporting.
Conflict of Interest: Councilor Connor recused herself from item #14 because her husband works for El Paso Electric
Public Participation:
· Ryan Daily expressed concerns about lack of support from the Council, City Staff and Police department in reducing crime in his area and helping him create a Neighborhood Watch program.
· Jim Harbison stated that he hoped the Council would follow the recommendations of the Attorney General’s office and comply with the provisions of the Open Meeting Act. Additionally he commended the Police Department for their support for the Neighborhood Watch programs in High Range.
Resolutions and/or Ordinances for Consent Agenda
1. Items #9 & #12 was removed by Councilor Silva from the consent agenda and all others were approved by a vote of 7/0
2. Item #9 concerned an agreement between the City of Las Cruces and the Las Cruces Public Schools concerning the cooperative use of current and future recreational space, athletic fields, and buildings and facilities. It was approved by a vote of 7/0.
3. Item # 12 concerning the Use of Existing New Mexico State University Job Order Contracts was discussed. Councilor Silva wanted to know why we used it because it does not include local contractor preference and essentially excludes them. He also wanted to know when the City would develop its own Job Order Contracts. Eric Martin, City staff, said we have too many projects currently and don’t have time now but will try to get out local bids next year. Mayor Miyagishima commented that there were many local contractors that could do the work. The resolution was passed by a vote of 7/0.
Unfinished Business
· Item #13 concerning the approval of Septic Systems in the development known as the Overlook was removed from being tabled and brought back to the Council. Dr Garcia, Utilities Director, made a presentation and acknowledged that the City master plan does not call for a sewer system to be installed in that area for the next 15-20 years. Based on the assumptions that there will be no offsite sewer system within the next five (5) years and that the distance to any existing sewer system will be greater than one (1) mile and on his department’s review of the existing City and State ordinances he made the following recommendations:
1. That the minimum lot size for a septic system be increased to 2 acres (NM requirement is ¾ acre)
2. That ground water must be at least 20 feet below the surface level (NM requirement is 4 feet)
3. All physical and technical design and construction must be in compliance with NM Environmental Department standards including installation of gray water lines.
4. That the developer be required to install all sewer lines within the development for connection to future City sewer system.
5. That all deeds to lots contain the restriction that requires mandatory connection to City sewer systems when it is completed.
· Councilor Small was adamant that the lot size minimum remain 3 acres and could not support smaller lot sized due to “health and safety” issues which he did not specify.
· Based on his questions about connection to the system and/or the removal of septic systems Councilor Silva appeared to be confused about the entire project (or he had not been listening to the presentation)
· Councilor Sorg was pleased with the recommendations and said he could support it but was concerned that it did not include any provisions for constructed wetlands wastewater and sewage filtration. He wanted staff to look into the possibilities for the future.
John Moscato
· Councilor Thomas was concerned that the lots could be further divided once the sewer system is installed and concurs with Councilor Small that the density must not be increased.
· Developer John Moscato stated the reasons to decrease the lot size from 3 to 2 acres were based on the assessment by the Utilities Department and the recommendations of the Utilities Board and the resultant increase in costs to the developer. These costs would be caused by the requirement to essentially install all sewer lines (in addition to the septic systems) 15-20 years in advance of the projected City sewer system to the area.
· Russ Warner spoke out against any additional sewer systems in the City and cited their “Smart Growth” campaign promises to not install them. Both Councilor Thomas and Mayor Miyagishima stated that this proposal was an example of Smart Growth and did not violate their campaign positions.
· It was approved by Council by a vote of 5/2 with Councilors Small and Silva voting against it.
Opinion: This discussion took more than 1½ hours because the Council could not focus on the issue but used the Council meeting to espouse their anti-growth environmental philosophies. Their attitude was not “how can we help you with this development but more of “here are the obstacles you will have to overcome to get this development done”.
Resolutions and Ordinances for discussions
1. Item #14 concerned a resolution authorizing the City to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Clearsult Consulting enabling the City’s participation in the El Paso Electric Company’s Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. Councilor Connor previously recused herself from this item. It was approved by a vote of 6/0/1
2. Item #15 concerned a resolution authorizing an option to lease agreement between the City of Las Cruces and SunEdison for a thirty year lease of up to 240 acres of municipally owned land at the Las Cruces International Airport for the potential construction of a solar panel field. It has the potential to provide multiple jobs during construction but only minimum jobs following completion. It was passed by a vote of 7/0.


NMSU Men's Basketball Picked Second in WAC

Both the media and coaches in the Western Athletic Conference picked the New Mexico State Men’s Basketball team to finish second in the WAC this season, behind defending regular season champion Utah State.  New Mexico State forwards Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater were selected preseason all-WAC.  Read more here.


Communication Problem or Policy Problem?

From Townhall.com by David Limbaugh - ......When Obama runs into opposition on his agenda, it never occurs to him that he could be wrong. That's why every time his policies are rebuffed, he reacts the same way: "They don't understand my plan. It's too complicated. I haven't given enough speeches on the subject or spoken to people about their core values. I want the people to take another look at my plan." Read more here:

Nine More Dead in Juarez Violence

Gunmen killed nine people in nearly simultaneous attacks at two houses on Sunday night in a neighborhood near the Juárez airport, the Chihuahua state attorney general's office said today. Shortly before 8 p.m. gunmen stormed into a family get-together at a home in the 7700 block of Gaspar de Sandoval street in the Campestre Virreyes neighborhood. Five people were shot to death in the home and two others died at a hospital. Read more here:

Boeing Joins the Obamacare "Warning" Parade

Aerospace giant Boeing is joining the list of companies that say the new health care law could have a potential downside for their workers. In a letter mailed to employees late last week, the company cited the overhaul as part of the reason it is asking some 90,000 nonunion workers to pay significantly more for their health plan next year. A copy of the letter was obtained Monday by The Associated Press. Read more here:

Abolish the PRC?

From the New Mexico Independent - The legislative Government Restructuring Task Force has drafted a constitutional amendment and legislation to abolish the Public Regulation Commission (PRC), according to documents obtained by The Independent. A draft Senate joint resolution would strip the troubled Commission, which is the state’s most powerful regulatory agency, of its constitutional authority. If approved by lawmakers, the proposed amendment would be submitted to voters at “the next general election or at any special election prior to that date that may be called for that purpose,” according to the draft resolution. Read more here:

Bill McCamley to Appear on NewsNM

Bill McCamley Democratic Party candidate for the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission will appear as a guest on News New Mexico on Tuesday morning October 19th at 8:00am.  McCamley is a graduate of NMSU and also earned a Masters Degree in Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. McCamley has served on the Dona Ana County Commission and teaches government at NMSU. You can learn more about Bill McCamley here:


Gallup Poll - 10.0% Unemployment Rate in Mid-October

PRINCETON, NJ -- Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is at 10.0% in mid-October -- essentially the same as the 10.1% at the end of September but up sharply from 9.4% in mid-September and 9.3% at the end of August. This mid-month measurement confirms the late September surge in joblessness that should be reflected in the government's Nov. 5 unemployment report. Read more here: