Harbison: Non-Partisan Elections

Jim Harbison
The recent legislative session reflected the ongoing serious partisan division and polarization of the political process. This polarization is not limited to the New Mexico State government but is endemic at all levels and does not serve the public well. Legislators are not looking out for their constituents but are more concerned about supporting their party platforms in order to maintain power and get re-elected. They are so polarized that they can no longer see what is in the best interest of the people of the STATE of New Mexico and instead focus on petty party politics that are extremely self serving. They have continually put themselves above the people they are supposed to represent and have disregarded the wishes and demands of ordinary New Mexicans.
Case in point is the recent debacle concerning New Mexico drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. More than three-fourths of the state voters oppose issuing driver’s licenses to them. The members of the House of Representative from all parties demonstrated the moral courage to do what is right, and in response to the requests and demands of the citizen’s, passed a bill to deny licenses to illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, the members of the Senate could not separate their self-serving interests from the desires of the population and refused to support this bill.
Another example was Mimi Stewart’s proposed bill that would change public employee retirement requirements. It was initially defeated on purely party lines. Many from the Democrat party said that while they supported the bill they had to be on record as having voted against it. For a host of reasons including negative public criticism the bill was brought back and the Senators made the necessary hard political decisions and voted to pass it and even if they were in conflict with their “Party” position.
Mimi Stewart
The public isn’t stupid and clearly understands that for what it was - a political power play by the Democrat majority to demonstrate to Governor Martinez that the Democrats were still in charge and they would continue the partisan politics that have prevented any real progress in this State for years.
Representative Andy Nunez was essentially evicted from the Democrat Party by Speaker Lujan. Representative Nunez, like many other voters, chose to register as a “did not state” (DNS) voter and therefore is ineligible to vote in primary elections. Furthermore the entire DNS voting segment of the population goes unrepresented in State politics and has no opportunity to participate in party caucuses or the pending redistricting process – only the two major parties get to do that and to draw the lines that will impact the election process for the next ten years. Independent or DNS voters only get to vote during the General Election for the candidates that were “chosen” for them during the Primary process by the two dominant political parties.
There are numerous states that have non-partisan or open primary elections which facilitate the political participation of all their citizens. Obviously, here in New Mexico the voice of a large segment of the population is not being heard by the established political parties and perhaps it’s time to open up the process and allow the public at large to determine the policies of this State. Experience in the other states invalidates the claims that the process is distorted by people crossing normal party lines to intentionally adversely influence the selection of the opposition party candidate.
Transparency in government at all levels, and especially in Santa Fe, is long overdue and going to open elections with non-partisan primaries will make our election process much more inclusive.


Malkin: Drilling Ken Salazar

Michelle Malkin
Townhall - After two years of practicing unrepentant contempt for science, jobs, law and truth, why should Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's words mean anything anymore? While President Obama promotes offshore drilling overseas thousands of miles away in Brazil, Salazar now promises to revitalize America's oil and gas industry. It's like Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian promoting himself as a lifesaving CPR specialist. This week, Salazar announced that the administration has just approved the first deepwater oil and gas exploration plan since last spring's BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mind you: This is not a granting of permits, but a green light for Shell Offshore to seek drilling permits for three new exploratory wells off the Louisiana coast. Shell first submitted and received approval for its original exploration plan in 1985 -- 26 red tape-wrapped years ago. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Williams: Economic Lunacy

Walter Williams
Townhall - Economic lunacy abounds, and often the most learned, including Nobel Laureates, are its primary victims. The most recent example of economic lunacy is found in a Huffington Post article titled "The Silver Lining of Japan's Quake" written by Nathan Gardels, editor of New Perspectives Quarterly, who has also written articles for The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Washington Post. Mr. Gardels says, "No one -- least of all someone like myself who has experienced the existential terror of California's regular tremors and knows the big one is coming here next -- would minimize the grief, suffering and disruption caused by Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami. But if one can look past the devastation, there is a silver lining. The need to rebuild a large swath of Japan will create huge opportunities for domestic economic growth, particularly in energy-efficient technologies, while also stimulating global demand and hastening the integration of East Asia. Read full column here: News New Mexico

13 Illegal Immigrants Arrested in California Wearing U.S. Marine Uniforms

From foxnews.com -Border Patrol agents recently arrested 13 illegal immigrants disguised as U.S. Marines and riding in a fake military van, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday.  The illegal immigrants were clad in Marine uniforms when they were apprehended at the Campo Border Patrol Westbound I-8 checkpoint at 11 p.m. on March 14 near Pine Valley, Calif., border officials said. Two U.S. citizens in the van also were arrested. After the suspicious white van was subjected to secondary inspection, it was determined that the driver of the vehicle and its front seat passenger were U.S. citizens who were attempting to smuggle 13 illegal immigrants into the United States. All of the vehicle's occupants wore U.S. Marine uniforms, reportedly emblazoned with the name "Perez."  More News New Mexico

DOJ Memo Confirms Terrorists Have Crossed The Border

From pajamasmedia.com -A potentially explosive admission by federal prosecutors in the pending sentencing of Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane in a San Antonio federal courtroom could aid the case of border states looking to take the initiative to stem the flood of illegal immigrants coming into the U.S.  Dhakane, who ran a human smuggling ring based in Brazil for the Somali Al-Shabaab terrorist group, transported “violent jihadists” into the country. He stated that “he believed they would fight against the U.S. if the jihad moved from overseas locations to the U.S. mainland.”   He admits that he knowingly believed he was smuggling violent jihadists into the United States with the full knowledge that if the decision was made by the SDGT, for which he was associated with in the past, to commit terrorist acts in the United States, these jihadists would commit violent acts in and against the United States. Thus, the preponderance of the evidence proves that the other obvious motivation for him to lie on his asylum application was to cover up and obstruct the fact from United States authorities that he facilitated the smuggling of violent jihadists who are now present into the United States More News New Mexico

Sanchez to Make Decision on Senate Run Soon

John Sanchez
Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez was sounding very much like a candidate for the U.S. Senate during his interview with News New Mexico yesterday. Early in the discussion he spoke of the challenges the Martinez – Sanchez administration faced with both the Senate and the House in control of progressives. With Michael Sanchez and Ben Lujan both mostly presenting hostile obstacles to many of the basic reforms Governor Martinez tried to implement, Sanchez outlined areas where progress was made. The most intriguing portion of our interview with Sanchez came at the end when Michael Swickard popped the question about whether Sanchez would be “in” or “out” of the race for the Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Bingaman. It was obvious Sanchez was very serious about a run. He said he would be making a decision on that question very soon. You can listen to the entire interview here: News New Mexico


Pearce to Appear on NewsNM

Steve Pearce in Cloudcroft
On March 17th Congressman Steve Pearce introduced H.R. 1202, a bill to restart jobs in New Mexico’s once-thriving timber industry. Pearce made a presentation in Cloudcroft and also spoke with his constituents there. This morning he will appear on News New Mexico to talk about this bill, the Continuing Resolution process in Washington, and President Obama's policies in Libya.


Andy Nunez In the Middle of Everything

Andy Nunez
Capitol Report New Mexico - During this past 60-day legislative session, it seemed that Rep. Andy Nuñez (I-Hatch) was in the middle of everything. First, he led an unsuccessful charge to oust Speaker of the House Ben Luján and replace him with Rep. Joe Cervantes (D-Las Cruces). In the wake of that attempt, Nuñez lost his chairmanship of the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. Then, Nuñez defected from the Democrats, renouncing his party affiliation. Republicans hoped he’d jump to their side of the aisle but Nuñez decided to call himself an independent. “At least I don’t have to go to caucus meetings anymore,” he joked after he made the announcement but his switch eroded the Democrats’ advantage in the House from 37-33 to 36-33-1, with Nuñez often voting with the GOP on critical issues.
If Nuñez annoyed the Democratic establishment, he then completely enraged liberals across the state by leading another charge — to eliminate the state’s policy granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Polls show a majority of New Mexicans want to overturn the policy that was instituted in 2003 by former Gov. Bill Richardson but an issue’s relative popularity doesn’t necessarily equal success in the legislative process. Nuñez sponsored House Bill 78 but it went absolutely nowhere in the Democratically-controlled committee process. Read full story here: News New Mexico


SIC Ends Zero Interest Loans to Filmmakers

Lee Rawson
Capitol Report New Mexico - The State Investment Council (SIC) on Tuesday (March 22) — with Gov. Susana Martinez taking part in the entire four-and-a-half hour meeting — unanimously voted to end the SIC’s practice of granting zero-percent interest loans to film companies who make their movies in New Mexico and also terminated the $260,000-a-year contract for the film consultant whose job was dependent on that practice. The zero-percent loan program — which is a separate issue from the much-debated tax credit policy that allows moviemakers to receive a 25 percent rebate from the state – had come under increasing criticism from members of the SIC, who felt that granting interest-free loans went against the SIC’s core reason for existing — to deliver a profitable return to New Mexico taxpayers on the $14.7 billion fund the council oversees. Moviemakers can still apply for loans with the SIC but they will have to pay a fixed-market rate. The board also unanimously passed a motion to terminate the contract of the state’s film consultant, Hollywood lawyer Peter Dekom, whose job it was to evaluate and advise the SIC on film projects. Dekom earned $260,000 a year from the state but in the eyes of the board, eliminating the zero-percent loan program made Dekom’s job superfluous. “If he’s not working, he’s not paid,” an SIC spokesman said after the meeting. I asked Gov. Martinez and board member Leonard Lee Rawson about the two motions that passed today: News New Mexico

Governor Carruthers to Appear on NewsNM

Garrey Carruthers
Former Governor Garrey Carruthers will join us on News New Mexico this morning. We plan to discuss the 2011 legislative session and try to evaluate any progress the state has made so far this year. We will discuss the thwarting of bi-partisan efforts to stop the practice of "Social Promotion" in early education, the film industry subsidies, the assumptions built into the state budget, the filibusters in both houses on the final day of the session, voter I.D. the issuance of driver's licenses to immigration law violators and much more.


Albuquerque loses money on red light cameras

From KOB-TV.com - By Jeff Maher, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Taryn Bianchin, KOB - Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry could decide whether to scrap the city’s red-light camera within the next 30 days. The city is losing money on the program because of a recent change made with the timing of the yellow lights. In January, the city changed the yellow lights to last longer at red-light camera intersections because a UNM study suggested it would lower the amount of crashes. That turned out to be true. But now there are less tickets being issued, meaning less revenue for the city. City councilor Dan Lewis says the city’s red-light camera fund that pays for the program has about $700,000 left and it’s costing about $100,000 a month to run it. That gives the city seven more months of funding before the mayor would have to start dipping into the city budget to pay for it, a budget that is already facing a $40 million shortfall. More News New Mexico

Threat of nixed sick-time payout sends some police, firefighters packing

From the Santa Fe New Mexican.com - by Julie Ann Grimm and Geoff Grammer - Santa Fe police and fire managers will have one less perk if officials approve a policy change. At least three high-ranking police commanders already have filed paperwork for retirement and others are discussing doing so in the coming weeks. At issue is whether employees who are not part of a collective-bargaining union can get a payout for unused sick time when they retire. The sick-time buyback provision for managers has been around only a few years. It was touted as a way to reward public-service leadership tenure with incentives similar to those offered to rank-and-file union members. When councilors threatened to change another retirement policy in 2008, all four of the city's highest-ranking firefighters retired, citing loss of expected income as their main reason. Tuesday was the last day at the Santa Fe Police Department for Lt. Gerald Solano, a 21-year veteran of the police force. "That sick-time policy and talk of pay cuts, those are things that affect our retirement and cost us money if we don't take advantage of the benefits now," said Solano. His decision to leave will afford him the luxury of cashing in on some 2,000 unused sick and vacation days, for almost a year of salary. They are days he said were touted as a benefit to officers in an effort to "not abuse their sick time." More News New Mexico

Pearce introduces bill to thin southeast forests

From KOB-TV.com - By: Joe Bartels, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Taryn Bianchin, KOB.com -Congressman Steve Pearce has introduced a bill in the House that would allow for the timber industry to begin operations again, while protecting the endangered Mexican Spotted Owl which forced the industry to shut down in the first place. Pearce says his bill would help return the forest to a sustainable condition while creating thousands of jobs, increasing water supplies, and reducing fire danger. Officials say dry conditions plus decades of fuel build up are leading to an explosive fire danger. The bill would allow for responsible forest thinning; a select harvest of big and small trees. The bill will likely face opposition. The endangered Mexican Spotted Owl lives in the trees which prompted the ban on forest cutting in the first place. More News New Mexico