NM Second Highest Car Repair BIlls

From bnet.com -It turns out high gas prices aren’t the only hang-up for summer travelers. Big repair bills can also take a bite out of your vacation budget, a new survey has found. If you’re driving to the western states, your mechanic is likely to charge anywhere from 11 to 18 percent more than the national average, according to a study by CarMd. Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado drivers faced the highest bills in the country, it revealed. More News New Mexico


State Office That Oversees Stimulus is Closing Shop

From therepublic.com -Mexico's share of federal stimulus money is preparing to close shop. The Albuquerque Journal reports Tuesday that staffing in the Office of Recovery and Reinvestment has been reduced from six to three this month. And by the end of September, the remaining employees expect to wrap things up for good. The office created to oversee NewMore stimulus money is expected to trickle in through 2014, but the state has already spent the bulk of the money targeted for New Mexico. More News New Mexico

State Tax Revenue Exceeds Forecasts

LFC Member John A. Smith
KOB TV - A legislative report says New Mexico's revenues are doing better than expected so far. Staff of the Legislative Finance Committee reports that revenues through April are up 8 percent from the same period in 2010, and tracking about $87 million more than what was forecast. Read full story here: News New Mexico

A.G. King Rips Susana Martinez Over Veto

Gary King
NMPolitics - On April 5, Gov. Martinez vetoed Senate Bill 397, a bill that would level the playing field for all cigarette manufacturers by requiring that they all pay their fair share of the health care costs their products cause in New Mexico. The veto was in direct contradiction to the legal advice provided to her by my office, which for years has been in charge of maintaining the historic master settlement agreement with major tobacco companies. Besides clearly putting the interests of the tobacco industry ahead of the health of New Mexico citizens, the veto enables a continuation of unequal treatment for cigarette makers who did not join the master settlement agreement (MSA). The biggest benefactor of the governor’s veto is a large cigarette manufacturing plant in New York. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Praise for Skandera's Ideas

Hanna Skandera
Capitol Report New Mexico - Ever since taking office, Gov. Susana Martinez and her secretary-designee at the New Mexico Public Education Department, Hanna Skandera, have touted the success of public school reforms instituted in Florida and have used the “Florida model” as a framework for overhauling New Mexico’s public schools. A number of Democrats have criticized Martinez and Skandera for what they say is a constant refrain of Florida cheerleading. “We keep hearing about Florida, Florida, Florida,” Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Albuquerque) said at one committee hearing this winter. “This is New Mexico; not Florida.”
Apodaca Education Building
Well, a national study of public schools has just come out, trumpeting the gains that Florida has made — specifically in offering advanced placement courses to public school students that “holds true across rich and poor districts.” But the glowing review didn’t come from a think tank promoting free-market solutions like the Cato Institute. Or from conservative news sources such as Fox News, the National Review or The Weekly Standard. The heralding of the “Florida model” came from ProPublica, a media outlet that describes itself as an “independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism,” that has partnered with such progressive voices as the New York Times, PBS, NPR and the Huffington Post. In 2010 ProPublica became the first online news source to win a Pulitzer Prize. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Time for Responsible Forest Management

Steve Pearce
For New Mexico and Other Western States, Cost of Fires is too High - By U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce - Fires of unprecedented size and severity continue to plague the west. For residents of New Mexico, this has already been a difficult and expensive summer, marked by evacuations, forest closures, and even loss of property and homes. This year, 876 individual fires have burnt a total of over 652,800 acres in New Mexico alone. On the state’s western border, the largest fire in Arizona history has now crossed into New Mexico, forcing evacuations and costing millions. Fires have burned in the Organ Mountains at the southern end of the state, temporarily forced the closure of the world-famous Carlsbad Caverns in eastern New Mexico, and have led to evacuations of Los Alamos National Labs to the north. Even where fires aren’t burning, forest use is restricted or completely closed.
Scorched Mountainside at Ruidoso Downs
The impacts on local communities are immense, as tourism and recreation are primary sources of income for the area. Tourism is likely to drop significantly in Lincoln County this summer if the forest remains closed, dramatically affecting local jobs and paychecks. But unfortunately, the fires impact far more than tourism. New Mexico, already facing a drought, relies on watersheds to feed our rivers and streams, and aquifers. Many of the fires ravaging New Mexico are burning through mountains and watersheds that supply our drinking water and irrigation. Our state’s agricultural sector—vital to our local economy—relies on the health of these watersheds, as do our people. It seems that no one in New Mexico is left untouched by these fires.
Last weekend, I spent time with constituents, local officials, and firefighters in Luna, which was recently evacuated due to fire. With lives and livelihoods on the line, it is important to ask the tough questions about how we got here. Healthy forest management has been prevented by a barrage of environmental lawsuits that advocate reckless policies and hamstring responsible and effective use of taxpayer dollars. As a result, logging is banned, we lose thousands of jobs, and forests become heavily overgrown, creating ideal conditions for a quickly-spreading, uncontrollable fire.
Thousands are left without work, and the forest becomes even more imperiled. A recent article by Ted Williams, a self-proclaimed “environmental extremist,” said that groups like the Center for Biological Diversity and the WildEarth Guardians give “every environmentalist a bad name,” with their lawsuits and agendas that cripple forest management. He said that these have turned suing the government into an industry, and do so completely at the expense of wildlife.
I recently spoke with representatives of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, whose land borders the Lincoln National Forest. They tell me that the spotted owl is flourishing on the reservation because they have been responsible in cutting and thinning their forest over the years. The Mescalero Tribe’s success story should be implemented in the Lincoln National Forest.
The failure of the Forest Service to manage one of our nation’s greatest resources is a disgrace. I have submitted a bill in Congress calling for the immediate return of logging to the area while protecting the spotted owl in sanctuaries. If action is not taken soon to change the course of our unhealthy forests around these local communities, our fate will almost certainly be the same as that of our friends west of here, where the Wallow Fire is devastating hundreds of thousands of acres. Otero County in New Mexico has shown initiative and leadership in this matter. Otero County officials recently approved the creation of an “Emergency Forest Plan” to protect the safety and welfare of citizens in the county. The plan calls for the commencement of logging ten to twenty thousand acres of forest around Cloudcroft. This commonsense decision will lead to responsible forest management, reducing the threat of fire and bringing much-needed jobs to the area. The Otero County Commission should be commended for their efforts, and other local governments should follow suit by refusing to tolerate reckless mismanagement of their lands.
Instead of fighting fires and watching our homes and resources go up in flames, imagine where we could be if the Forest Service would harvest our valuable timber, create jobs, and save our forests. Instead of policies that make economic sense and protect our forests, we continue to spend Forest Service revenues fighting fires created by decades of failed policies. It is time for the government to change course—or we will continue to watch our forests burn and our jobs go overseas.


NM Fire Update

KOB TV reports that the devastating Wallow fire on the Arizona/New Mexico border is now 95% contained according officials. The Donaldson fire near Hondo, New Mexico is 60% contained. Unfortunately for residents in the northern part of the state, the gigantic Las Conchas fire is only 19% contained. And worse yet, a new fire has started near Bandolier National Monument. It would also appear that in places where forest fire damage has destroyed vegatation, flooding could become a serious risk as the rain season gets underway. Go to KOB.com for more information: News New Mexico

D.A.s Choose to Continue Victim Notification Program

Matt Chandler
NMPolitics - The state’s district attorneys have agreed to take a company that provides a victim notification system up on its offer to continue the service for two months for free while they seek other funding to keep the system going. District Attorneys Matt Chandler from Clovis and Amy Orlando from Las Cruces confirmed that they and their colleagues reversed an earlier decision to shut down part of the system.
Amy Orlando
As NMPolitics.net reported on Thursday, district attorneys were scrambling to save the VINE, or Victim Information and Notification Everyday, system, which provides automated notification to victims and others about defendants’ incarceration status and court hearings. Earlier this year, Gov. Susana Martinez pocket vetoed a funding bill she said was flawed. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Coney Island Rationing Toilet Paper

New York Post - Hey buddy, can you spare a square? The city is so hard up for cash that it's rationing toilet paper in women's public restrooms -- to the point where bathroom attendants are doling out a few measly squares per patron -- along the world-famous Coney Island boardwalk. The Post witnessed stone-faced Parks Department employees leave toilet-paper dispensers empty last week and instead force astonished female beachgoers to form "ration lines" in the bathrooms. Read full story here: News New Mexico