Investigation Shows Teachers' Fund Greatly Overpaid Retirees

From - A so-called computer glitch caused New Mexico’s Educational Retirement Board to overpay retiring teachers and other school employees last July and August, a Target 7 investigation uncovered. New Mexico ERB Executive Director Jan Goodwin said they don’t know how much the fund overpaid. "We’re in the process of looking at all the 764 checks that had interest in July and August,” Goodwin said. On Tuesday, Goodwin said the ERB asked for and received the overpaid money back. But on Thursday Target 7 found out that the ERB has done nothing to collect the over payments which could reach into the millions. New information released on Thursday shows that one person received $259,000 in interest alone. Read more

Nearly 2,000 city vehicles issued red light camera tickets

From - The Albuquerque City Council got its first look at a new contract for the city's red light cameras Monday evening. Details on the proposed contract are still being unveiled, but Interim City Attorney Robert Kidd has new numbers on the program's success. He says it boils down to cost. Kidd tells KOB Eyewitness News 4 that new numbers show the program is already paying for itself. Although a public records request submitted by KOB shows private citizens are not the only ones getting tickets. Between 2009 and 2010, City of Albuquerque vehicles were issued 1,822 red light camera tickets. 1,289 of them were dismissed. 459 were paid. 74 are still unpaid. Read more

Fertility study targets region's wild horses

From The Farmington Daily - By Ryan Boetel - A five-year study is under way aimed at increasing the length of time birth-control drugs work in horses. Officials say boosting the drugs' lasting power will save money and put less stress on the horses because they won't have to be rounded up and given infertility drugs as often. The Bureau of Land Management and the United States Geological Survey announced last week the start of a wild horse fertility control study at a BLM short-term holding facility in Pauls Valley, Okla. About 90 mares from wild horse herds in several states will be given a new version of the birth control drug PZP, which is administered to wild horse herds throughout the west, according to BLM spokesman Paul McGuire. The drug currently lasts about two years. Wild horses throughout the west, including about 330 wild horses in northwest New Mexico, are in danger because of overpopulation. Read more

Fate of LANL building rests in judge's hands

From the Santa Fe New - National security met environmental protection in a crossfire Monday, as a federal legal team wrapped up its defense on behalf of the largest construction project in New Mexico history, aside from the interstate highway system. When the hearing began Wednesday in federal court, attorneys for the Los Alamos Study Group, a nonprofit public-interest organization, presented their case for stopping all work on a $4 billion to $6 billion proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory while a new environmental impact statement is prepared. Andrew Smith, a trial lawyer in the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, representing the National Nuclear Security Administration, argued the NEPA process under way is an extension of several previous environmental studies that led to a formal record of decision in 2004 to build the nuclear facility. Read more

History conference to be held in Ruidoso

From the Alamogordo Daily News - The Historical Society of New Mexico comes to southern New Mexico for its annual meeting this year. Ruidoso will be full of history buffs attending the 2011 New Mexico History Conference that begins May 5 and ends May 8. From Otero County, David Townsend and Barbara McDonald will be panelists in a 10:30 a.m. Friday session of the conference about plans for next year's state centennial. They will also discuss Otero County's centennial plans. The conference will be at the Ruidoso Convention Center and other venues in Lincoln County. An opening reception and conference registration will be held at the Hubbard Museum on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. Read more

Grand jury meets May 12 in Murphy case

From NM - By Heath Haussamen - Meanwhile, security was beefed up for a closed-door hearing held today, but officials won’t say why. A grand jury is scheduled to meet May 12 to consider indicting Third Judicial District Judge Mike Murphy on charges including bribery. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, confirmed the date earlier today. The grand jury will meet behind closed doors on May 12 at the Third Judicial District courthouse in Las Cruces. Read more

Progressive: Justice Served but......bin Laden no Different Than Harry Truman

Osama bin Laden
Progressive - I always rejoice at the death of a mass murderer, and Osama bin Laden was definitely a mass murderer. He killed 3,000 people here on 9/11, and he killed more than 300 in August 1998 in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. So I understand the sense of relief or closure or even triumph that many Americans feel today. But it’s worth grappling with precisely what it is that bin Laden did, and why it is that Americans are chanting “USA, USA” today. What bin Laden did was to use violence as a ready tool to advance his purposes. What bin Laden did was to wantonly sacrifice the lives of innocent people in service of those purposes. In this regard, bin Laden is no different a mass murderer than William McKinley was in the Philippines.
Harry Truman
In this regard, bin Laden is no different a mass murderer than Harry Truman was when he dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In this regard, bin Laden is no different a mass murderer than Ronald Reagan was when he funded and trained the contras against Nicaragua or backed the Salvadoran military against the rebels there. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Democrats Hispanic Problem

Linda Chavez
Townhall - Among the challenges facing the Democrats in the 2012 election is the prospect that President Barack Obama will not be able to re-energize his base -- which included record numbers of Hispanic voters in 2008. Hispanics gave Obama 67 percent of their votes, but just as importantly, Hispanic turnout was higher than usual. More than 10 million Hispanics cast 9 percent of the total vote, the largest ever. But many Hispanics have soured on Obama -- and not just because he failed to deliver on his promise of comprehensive immigration reform. Like most other Americans, Hispanics care most about the economy. High unemployment, which is at 11 percent among Hispanics, rising gas prices and a depressed housing market hurt President Obama's chances to repeat his 2008 performance among Hispanic voters. A new analysis of 2010 voting patterns by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that voter turnout among Latinos plummeted. Fewer than 1 in 3 eligible to vote actually turned out on Election Day -- a much lower proportion than the nearly half of white and the 44 percent of black eligible voters who cast ballots. And among those who did show up, nearly 40 percent voted for Republican candidates, according to exit polls -- no doubt aided by the fact that the GOP ran Hispanic candidates at the top of the ticket in three states. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Pearce Reflects on Bin Laden Announcement

NM Congressman Steve Pearce - Speaking to Veterans
By U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce - Just arriving in DC from New Mexico at about 10:30 pm, I almost missed the announcement that bin Laden was dead. My Blackberry was buzzing with the news of the impending Presidential Message.  I was frustrated, in the airport, waiting for my bag. I ran to the car, turned on the radio; the President had not yet spoken. The announcer said a small group was gathering at the White House chanting “USA.” I hurried there, arriving just as the President was speaking. One of the first to arrive, I parked half a block from the White House. People were running, skateboarding, jumping out of cabs, double parking. The streets were already electric with enthusiasm. The pulsing mass numbered about 500 people when I arrived. People chanting "USA, USA". Flags waving everywhere...the crowd swelled to thousands. Hugging, shaking hands. Cheers. The average age is 26 or so. The chants are fresh and edgy...the F-bomb abounds. Handmade signs announce the news with unmistakable enthusiasm: "Sama bin gotten" "Justice has been done" "F yea we got him" Jubilation. Freedom. Gratitude. The day of reckoning for our public enemy number one has arrived. A light pole in the middle of the crowd is an obvious target. People try to shimmy up it.
The crowd chants encouragement as they try, and groans in sympathy when they fail and slip back to the ground. Suddenly the crowd bursts into the National Anthem. A young man has reached the top of the pole and has draped a flag across the top. A human figure is climbing a tree by the fence dressed in a Spiderman American Flag costume. A young woman sits on the shoulders of a friend to see more. Others are doing the same all around me. The crowd erupts. A TV crew had arrived and turned on the camera to capture the emotions of the night. I snap a picture of a young man chugging a fifth of Jim Beam. A Capitol Hill staffer recognizes me as a Congressman. Word spreads quickly that someone from Congress is there. Spontaneous requests to make pictures with me. Young people come up to hug me and thank me for serving. Handshakes abound. One of the biggest hits in the crowd is Santa Clause with Blues Brothers shades. He recognizes the DFC pin on my blazer and pauses to say thanks for my service. The crowd is filled with vets.
They are as young as the crowd, chests bursting with pride that they had done their part. One vet's T-shirt reads: "It is God's job to judge Osama Bin Laden, It is the Military's job to arrange the meeting. My Father’s generation experienced VE Day with the wild, celebrating mob in New York. But my generation drifted quietly into town from Viet Nam. Our nation was embarrassed by the war and its soldiers.
Tonight, though, our nation was filled with renewed pride. For nearly a decade our men and women in uniform fought relentlessly for justice, for freedom, and for our way of life. That crowd didn’t care what color your skin is, who you worship, or who you voted for. Just like in the aftermath of that awful September morning, we were united as Americans. At 2:30 am I depart...others are walking wearily but contentedly away. Others, called by friends, have jumped out of bed are just arriving. I pull out of my prime parking spot...a car is waiting to slip into it. The night was a night of fervent thanksgiving for a nation that will remember its promise to bring to justice anyone who makes an unprovoked attack on our citizens. The celebration was the appropriate response of a grateful nation to so many who have given so much.


Balderas and Heinrich Nice.....For Now

Martin Heinrich
Capitol Report New Mexico - In their first public appearance together since announcing their runs for Jeff Bingman’s seat in the US Senate, Martin Heinrich and Hector Balderas played nice. Very nice.
Hector Balderas
There were no sharp elbows thrown as the two candidates delivered speeches at the Democrats’ statewide convention in Albuquerque on Saturday (April 30). In fact, state auditor Balderas was effusive in his praise of Heinrich, who is stepping down from his seat in the US House of Representatives to make a run for the Senate. “I look forward to a classy debate with our great Congressman, Martin Heinrich,” Balderas told delegates at the convention. He then asked the crowd to give Heinrich a warm round of applause. Just before Balderas took the podium, Heinrich gave his own 15-minute speech in which he said, “I’m sure we’ll have a respectful primary.” Read full story here: News New Mexico


Martin Resendiz Will Oppose Steve Pearce

Martin Resindiz
Capitol Report New Mexico - Martin Resendiz, the mayor of Sunland Park, told delegates at the state Democratic party convention Saturday (April 30) that he plans to run against Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico) in the Second Congressional District in 2012. Resendiz is the first Democrat to jump into the electoral field in the District 2 race and told me in a brief interview Saturday that he’s been thinking about running against Pearce for about six months. “I feel the public’s been neglected,” he said. One of the hottest topics in southern New Mexico has been the debate about placing the dunes sagebrush lizard on the federal endangered species list. Conservationists are urging the US Fish and Wildlife Service to grant the lizard federal protection but Pearce has been leading rallies against the listing, arguing it would sharply curtail or even eliminate oil and gas drilling in the Oil Patch. Resendiz told me Saturday he has not determined whether the lizard should or should not received endangered species protection. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Griego Will Run for U.S. House

Eric Griego
Capitol Report New Mexico - One of the most outspoken liberals in the Roundhouse is now going to try to get elected to the US Capitol. State Sen. Eric Greigo, a Democrat from Albuquerque, officially announced Saturday (April 30) he’s running to take Martin Heinrich’s place in the House of Representatives. Heinrich is stepping down in 2012 to run for the soon-to-be-vacated seat of Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico). Griego is finishing out his first term as state senator and in the past legislative session was one of the most outspoken critics of a bill sponsored by Rep. Andy Nuñez (I-Hatch) to rescind the state’s law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants (you can click here for an interview we had with Griego as that bill was about to reach the Senate floor). Saturday’s announcement came at the state Democratic party convention in Albuquerque. Griego says a “right-wing conservative majority in Congress” is dismantling programs instituted by Franklin Roosevelt while corporations and ”millionaires and billionaires” are getting let off the hook. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Gonzales Beats Bregman and Retains Chair

Javier Gonzales
Capitol Report New Mexico -  By a bare 1-vote cushion, New Mexico Democrats re-elected Javier Gonzales as state party chairman on Saturday afternoon (April 30) in Albuquerque. Gonzales edged out attorney Sam Bregman in a three-way race that included party activist Letitia Montoya. A majority — rather than a plurality — was need to select the party chairman and with 381 ballots cast by party delegates Saturday, 191 votes were needed to avoid a runoff. Here are the results:
Montoya 9 votes, Bregman 180 votes, Gonzales 192 votes - All three candidates gave fiery, partisan speeches before delegates cast their votes Saturday with Gonzales promising party loyalists that “We will outwork the radical right wing extremists in the Tea Party.” Read full story here: News New Mexico

Republicans and Democrats Divided on Lizard

Capitol Report New Mexico - As the US Fish and Wildlife Service prepares for a public meeting in Roswell Thursday evening (April 28) over whether or not to grant the dunes sagebrush lizard protection under the Endangered Species Act, all of the Democrats in the New Mexico congressional delegation have refused to comment about what their stance is regarding the designation. But Gov. Susana Martinez’ office released a statement siding with the only Republican in the congressional delegation — Rep. Steve Pearce, who has forcefully come out against giving the lizard a federal endangered species listing. At the heart of the controversy is a fear among some people in New Mexico’s Oil Patch that expanding protections for the lizard would threaten oil and gas development in the southeast part of the state — although a number of conservationists say that’s not necessarily the case. (Click here for our original post on this story.)
Susana Martinez
Pearce has been outfront on this issue, repeatedly saying that “Most of the oil and gas jobs in southeast New Mexico are at risk.” But where do the other members of the New Mexico congressional delegation stand? Capitol Report New Mexico e-mailed the press secretaries of Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján – all Democrats — asking whether they favor placing the lizard on the federal endangered species list but none of them responded. However, Capitol Report New Mexico also e-mailed the office of Gov. Martinez and received this reply Tuesday: Governor Martinez supports common-sense conservation efforts that protect the dune lizard from being killed or harmed, but she opposes letting bureaucrats in Washington take the extreme step of declaring many of our natural resources off-limits for responsible development, which would cost New Mexico jobs. As a result, the governor will not support efforts to place the lizard on the federal endangered species list and will instead continue to support a balanced approach that protects our environment and allows for responsible economic development. Read full story here: News New Mexico

SBIC $9 Million in the Red

Capitol Report New Mexico - Chances are you’ve never heard of the New Mexico Small Business Investment Corporation (SBIC). But back in 2001, the state legislature OK’d a plan that sends 1 percent of the Severance Tax Permanent Fund per year to the SBIC so that it can help small business create jobs in New Mexico, through micro-lending and equity programs for start-ups and Mom and Pop operations. Now 1 percent doesn’t sound like a whole lot but when you consider that the severance tax fund is run by the State Investment Council, which manages some $15 billion in assets, well, suddenly that 1 percent is not so measly. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Lizard Makes National News

Bloomberg - Frustration is swelling among residents and lawmakers in one of the most productive oil and natural gas basins in the nation, and it's all because federal wildlife managers have proposed endangered species protections for a small lizard. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed by environmentalists in recent years seeking to protect hundreds of species. Most get little attention as they work their way through the court system and through the offices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The case of the dunes sagebrush lizard is unfolding much differently across southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, where refineries, drilling rigs and pump jacks are as common as skyscrapers in the big city. From Midland, Texas, to Artesia, N.M., hundreds of people have turned out in recent weeks for town hall gatherings, rallies and public meetings to oppose the listing. The latest rally was planned for Thursday night in Roswell. "We're not going to stand idly by and watch the economies of southeastern New Mexico and West Texas be devastated," U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I think people are just ready to march in the streets. They're ready to say enough is enough. We can't manage the entire country for a single species at a time." Read full story here: New New Mexico