Nunez: Life in a One-Man Caucus

Andy Nunez
Andy Nunez, the only Independent in the entire New Mexico legislature, says Republican lawmakers have not brought forth any bill so far in the 2011 legislative session that he disagrees with. Instead, Nunez says it has been some of the Democrats on certain committees that are giving him a "hard time." In describing what life is like as a one-man caucus in Santa Fe, Nunez said he feels his life has improved. "I'm alot better off now than I was when I was a Democrat," Nunez said. Nunez made these comments during an exclusive interview with News New Mexico this morning. Nunez spent several minutes during the interview describing what it has been like since he chose to go it alone as an independent. It would seem that Nunez has been the only person to set aside all of the partisan forces driving New Mexico politics so far in 2011. Nunez seemed particularly miffed when the discussion shifted towards the issue of handing out driver's licenses to illegal aliens. He seemed to be particularly irritated by the tactics of certain Democrats in the legislature as he described their attempts to use the driver's license issue as a wedge to divide citizens along ethnic lines. As a Hispanic, Nunez said that opposing the issuing of driver's licenses to people who have entered the country illegally has nothing to do with race. You can hear the entire News New Mexico interview with New Mexico's leading statesman and modern day folk hero.... Andy Nunez here: News New Mexico

Reid: "Temporary" Spending Bill Needed

Harry Reid
Bloomberg - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he’ll introduce a temporary spending measure to keep the government operating into early April, an effort to buy time for negotiations on a longer-term agreement. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he was tapping his top aide to open private talks with the office of House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, on a broader deal that “cuts waste and excess, while protecting the initiatives that keep us safe, put Americans back to work and keep our economy on the right track.” Congressional leaders of both parties are maneuvering over spending cuts as the prospect of a government shutdown in early March looms. Current spending authority expires on March 4, and if Congress doesn’t act on a new spending plan by then the government will shut down. Congress is in recess this week.  Read full story here: News New Mexico

Teachers as Rent Seekers

Mona Charen
Townhall - "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." -- John Maynard Keynes.....The particular defunct economist who most dominates the minds of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party is Keynes himself. But events in Wisconsin and a few other states are bringing other economists -- some still very much alive -- to the fore. In Wisconsin and other states facing severe budget crises, we are witnessing the clash of special interests versus the public interest. Though the term "special interests" is usually deployed as an epithet by Democrats and is meant to refer to oil companies, "the rich," or other undesirables, in fact, as economist James M. Buchanan and other "public choice" theorists explain, a special interest is any community that attempts to gain a particular advantage from government. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Williams: "Civility" Has a Short Shelf Life

Armstrong Williams
Townhall - Two points jump out at me as I watch the union protests in Wisconsin. First the “new era of civility” is over, and secondly, that union myrmidons continue to put their own self-interests above the rest of the taxpayers and nation. If you recall after the Gifford shooting last month, the left was quick to vilify the right for so-called vitriol and hostile rhetoric. They claimed Loughner to be the poster child for what happens to normal folks that listen to too much Limbaugh and Hannity. Except, we found out that was all a red herring; Loughner turned out to be fairly an apolitical nut job. But still, everyone from CNN to President Obama demanded that we “tone down the rhetoric.” Yet today I see Obama accuse Gov. Walker of an “assault on unions.” Sounds like violent rhetoric to me.
I also see that the union protesters are carrying signs comparing Walker and the Republicans to Mubarack and Nazis, as well as several with Walker in target crosshairs. Well, I guess it was a nice, “civil” 3 weeks. Civility is not the main concern that the protests reveal, but I do find it both amusing and disappointing at the same time. The most glaring issue that these protests demonstrate is a classic case of “good enough for thee but not for me.” Union members and their leaders don’t care if folks in the private sector are suffering from the bad economy. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Smash-Mouth Defense of Taxpayers

Chris Christie
Washington Times - Every time Gov. Chris Christie plays another round of smash-mouth politics with New Jersey’s public-sector unions, conservative voters across the country lead the cheers. “When he speaks to the unions and the other parasitic special-interest groups ripping off the taxpayers, you want to applaud,” said Mark Kevin Lloyd, chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation. “Think about the first time you heard [Clint] Eastwood say, ‘So, you feel lucky, punk? Go ahead — make my day.’ Remember how everyone cheered?” A poll finds that Republicans and independents have warmed quickly to the governor’s in-your-face style with teachers unions, state government workers, police and firefighters — so much so that they propelled him to the front among possible GOP presidential nomination contenders in 2012 despite Mr. Christie‘s frequent assertions that he won’t run. Yet many of those admirers say they know little else about the governor. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Don't Leave N.M. Out in the Cold

Steve Pearce
NewsNM note - This op-ed piece is a corrected version submitted by Congressman Steve Pearce late Tuesday - Earlier this month, New Mexicans faced subzero temperatures, snow, and ice across the state. Along with the freezing cold and rolling electricity blackouts, thousands of families were left without natural gas. Now, as heat is restored and lights come back on, it is the time for answers.
We pay for natural gas so that we can cook and heat our homes, and we rely on those services. Consumers cannot just switch providers as with other products—public service companies have a responsibility to deliver in any circumstances. While there are reasonable explanations, there is no acceptable justification for the failure to deliver natural gas service to the people of New Mexico during the recent winter weather. First and foremost, New Mexicans must be made whole. I commend those few companies that have taken the leadership to establish compensation funds. However, others have yet to publicly show that they understand the impact that losing natural gas service had on so many New Mexicans. I hope they will rethink their position.
It is time for answers. We have already begun to understand what happened—what some have called “a perfect storm.” In Texas, the adverse weather conditions disrupted dozens of power generating units, causing rolling blackouts. Gas processing plants were left without power, wellheads and lines froze, and demand skyrocketed. As a result, even though we had gas in volume, we did not have the pressure needed to get it into homes.
But even once we answer the questions of “why,” the more pressing question is “how”—how can we avoid this sort of crisis in the future? Were rolling blackouts the best approach, or should power have been maintained in the areas that run our gas lines? Are we too reliant on energy from outside New Mexico? If our electricity came from other sources, could this have been avoided? I am pleased to see my colleagues in the New Mexico congressional delegation seeking answers at the U.S. Senate field hearing in Albuquerque on Monday. We will inevitably face another storm of these proportions, and when we do, we must be prepared. New Mexicans don’t ask for much; we just don’t want to be left out in the cold.


Witnesses to New Mexico Energy Policy

Kim Sorvig
Capitol Report New Mexico -  Where does a person’s professional expertise end and his political advocacy begin? That’s an interesting question after glancing at the opinion section of Sunday’s Santa Fe New Mexican, which featured a piece by Dr. Kim Sorvig headlined as “Schmitt’s abrupt exit about deceit, not privacy.” Some background: The most dramatic moment of the first 30 days of this current 60-day legislative session came on Jan. 31 when all the Republicans of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee walked out after a presentation on the effects of rules and incentives on the New Mexico oil and gas industry.
Don Bratton
The committee’s new chairman, Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), invited two speakers – including Sorvig, a research associate professor at the UNM School of Architecture and Planning — to appear as what Egolf described as non-partisan experts. After the walkout, Rep. Don Bratton (R-Hobbs) said Sorvig’s lecture amounted to “propoganda.” After the hearing, a quick Google search by Capitol Report New Mexico produced a number of opinion pieces and letters to the editor that Sorvig had written in the New Mexican in which he said inaugural crowds in 2009 singing songs in reference to outgoing President George W. Bush “could justifiably have picked “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and, in another piece, urged New Mexico voters to reject Susana Martinez, calling her “Tejana Susana,” a reference to the most controversial commercial of the Martinez-Diane Denish gubernatorial race last November. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Dems Shoot Down Driver's License Amendments

Capitol Report New Mexico - The New Mexico State Senate turned back three attempts Monday (Feb. 21) to attach amendments to rescind the state’s current policy allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses onto a piece of legislation sponsored by a Senate Democrat — but Republicans were able to force a couple floor votes, thus getting Democrats on record regarding an issue that riles a large number of voters across the state. Senate Republicans tried to add amendments to Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), that concerned license requirements for drivers under the age of 18, triggering a vigorous floor debate that took up most of the afternoon. Sen. Bill Sharer (R-Farmington), Sen. Clint Harden (R-Clovis) and Sen. John Ryan (R-Albuquerque) each tried to add floor amendments that attempted to tack on provisions that would keep illegal immigrants from acquiring New Mexico drivers licenses.
But Democrats prevailed 25-15 in a floor vote that the Sharer amendment was not germane to SB9 — which prompted Sen. Rod Adair (R-Roswell) to say from the floor that “if this amendment is not germane then virtually no amendment is germane.” Later, Harden’s amendment was brought up — then shot down — and then, Ryan’s amendment met the same fate. “We know why all these amendments are coming down,” Senate Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez (D-Belen) said. “This is about politics and getting people on the record for a vote.” Read full story here: News New Mexico


Energy: America and NM Less Prepared Than Ever

Bloomberg - Oil jumped to the highest in more than two years in New York as intensifying violence in Libya stoked concern that supplies from the holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves may be disrupted. Futures for April delivery in New York rose as much as 9.8 percent from the Feb. 18 settlement and London-traded Brent surged to the highest since September 2008, as soldiers deserted Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s government and diplomats resigned. Brent may trade between $105 and $110 a barrel in coming weeks if uncertainty continues, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
“Libya is quite an important oil exporter, especially to Europe,” said Hannes Loacker, an analyst with Raiffeisen Bank International AG in Vienna. “Now fear and uncertainty is increasing over whether countries in the Gulf may be affected.” Crude for April delivery rose as much as $8.77 to $98.48 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $98.07 at 8:55 a.m. London time. On Feb. 18, the contract settled at $89.71. Floor trading was closed yesterday for the U.S. Presidents Day holiday and electronic trades will be booked with today’s for settlement purposes. Read full story here: News New Mexico