It's Back! Rail Runner weekend service restored

From Capitol Report New - One month after the the Rio Metro Regional TransitDistrict Board decided to do away with weekend service on the Rail Runner, the board on Friday (July 15) by a 14-1 vote partially restored weekend service on the express train that runs between the greater Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas. “The board responded to the numerous public comments from people who wanted to keep weekend Rail Runner service intact”, Steve Shaw, Chairman of the Rio Metro Board, said in a statement. “While weekday train service will always be the main mission for the Rail Runner, we see the importance of weekend service as it relates to tourism and economic vitality in New Mexico.” The board has been wrestling with how to deal with a 2012 budget that is $1.2 million less than the previous year. In June, the board narrowly decided to shut down weekend service but since that decision was made, supporters of the Rail Runner and a number of merchants in the Santa Fe area bitterly complained. Friday’s decision sees a kind of “mix and match” approach that the board hopes will address monetary problems (at least in the short term) while bringing back the train on Saturdays and Sundays. Read more

State mum on $100M contract for Medicaid IT system

NewsNM Swickard - Obviously sensitive negotiations cannot be done with reporters watching and writing. Still, it would be nice to be open about why we must be closed. And the scale: 100 million? Gosh, that's only 2 1/2 percent of the yearly money being managed. From the Santa Fe New - The New Mexico Human Services Department won't say much about its contract negotiations with a firm to administer the state's computerized Medicaid claims system: Not the firm's identity or how many firms bid on the multimillion-dollar deal. The agency won't say much, in fact, other than it is close to signing the contract. "We are in a critical period of the contract award process and expect to make the award shortly," agency spokesman Matt Kennicott said in a recent email. The public silence surrounding the contract comes only months after Gov. Susana Martinez's administration, which has touted its openness, got an earful from state lawmakers and health care advocates over the secrecy involved in hiring a consulting firm for $1.7 million to help the state overhaul Medicaid. The government's low-income health-insurance program insures one in every four New Mexicans. And the program's information-technology system for processing claims is a mainstay of day-to-day operations, handling tens of thousands of requests a week for payments for services. At least one state lawmaker said the administration should make more information available publicly. Read more

That smarts, but it isn't smart: Vandals attempt to steal copper; cut live power line

NewsNM Swickard - Bill Engvall ought to put this in his comedy routine. From - injured themselves while trying to steal copper from an elementary school. The thieves cut into the power line at East San Jose Elementary School near Broadway Boulevard and Gibson Boulevard, triggering a huge electrical jolt. Albuquerque Public Schools officials said the vandals were on top of the roof of the school over the weekend, equipped with tools and a plan to rip off copper. The plan was foiled by a 480-volt electrical shock. By cutting the power line, the thieves knocked out power to the entire school. When APS police arrived Saturday and made it to the school's roof, all they found were several melted tools and a scorched T-shirt. Police found no sign of the vandals. There is no video surveillance that was captured on the rooftop. APS officials think the thieves knew they were cutting into a live hot-wire, but did it anyway. Officials believe that at least one of the suspects is seriously injured. Read more

Every Dem in 2006 Voted Against Raising the Debt Ceiling

From -Every democrat voted “no” including Obama. Drudge just posted this debt vote reminder from 5 years ago.  EVERY SINGLE Democrat opposed raising the debt limit when George W. Bush was president. Every – Single – One.  It’s funny how things change when there’s a new occupant in the White House, huh?  More News New Mexico

"Eco Friendly Village" Now Available in Santa Fe

From Homes Group of Prudential Santa Fe Real Estate can provide a sustainable home or an entire Eco-Village in Santa Fe, the oldest city in the United States celebrating it's 400th Anniversary. Santa Fe offers a high quality of life, as an arts enclave and high tech research center, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where a resident can enjoy great skiing in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Oshara Village is one of the most sustainable communities in the nation, featuring 100% water reclamation and reuse, access to public transportation, neighborhood agriculture, walkable urban design and Zero Energy Homes.  More News New Mexico

Pre-Schoolers Punctured by Needles in Their Classroom

From At least four children were accidentally punctured by syringes that they found in their preschool classroom, and now the city is trying to figure out where the syringes came from.  At the bottom a box full of donated medical items meant for kids to play doctor, some little children at a city run pre-kindergarten program at Governor Bent Elementary School found something that could make them very sick.  More News New Mexico


The Week in Review

Bill Maher
The week that just ended began with our reporting on the absurd comments of comedian Bill Maher. Maher found a way to turn the Casey Anthony verdict into a political discussion. Then he compared Republicans to the Anthony jury and said they were letting their leaders get away with murder. As an independent this rings just a bit hollow. If Maher had only included in Democrats and Republicans in his statement we could have suggested that he be declared a national hero.
Tim Geithner
President Obama and Tim Geithner worked like a wrestling tag team at the beginning of the week to scare voters, particularly seniors. Geithner told voters Armageddon would be the result of NOT extending the debt ceiling and Obama said he would not avoid Armageddon by signing a bill that did not borrow more money for a longer period of time than the GOP wanted. One of them had to be attempting deception, either about Armageddon, or about what they really wanted.
Harry Reid
And speaking of deceit, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid got indignant earlier this year when it was suggested that the social security system was NOT  “fine” and anyone saying it was tied to the federal budget deficit did NOT simply “hate government.” Reid must have been shocked to learn that President Obama was tying the August social security checks to the deficit and suggesting the money might not be there. Again, somebody is deceiving here. Nice job Nevada.
We reported that there were forty more dead bodies discovered in Mexico last weekend. While Mexican officials were performing autopsies on the bodies, the world’s media was over in Libya shooting fresh footage of the rebels and Ghadaffi troops in their latest tussle to see which dictaor prevails.
Senator Jeff Bingaman was back in the news early in the week when he reversed course on his support for billions of dollars in annual ethanol subsidies. We have often wondered out loud what both Senators Bingaman and Udall are thinking about when they vote for subsidies on Midwest corn that drives up our energy costs while supporting economic penalties on New Mexico oil and gas production. We get the worst of both worlds. 
Jeff Bingaman
We once offered to trade both of our U.S. senators to Louisiana and Alaska for their Democrats: Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich. We are pretty sure neither of those energy rich states would go for the trade. How about we settle for some cash considerations now and a minor league demagogue to be named later?
Forbes reported that Public Service Company of NM is now balking at the idea of being forced to by wind generators by NM state regulators. Originally supportive of the bone-headed measures that will drive up electricity bills in the state, PNM management may be starting to smell a rat or perhaps the roses. Our guess is they are now suspecting they will not be allowed by regulators to recover their costs....AFTER they invest their money and then try to drive up our electric bills.
On Wednesday we had Dr. John Fowler in studio to explain how lawyers at organizations like the Center for Bio-Dversity abuse taxpayer funds and drive up a slew of costs for consumers. Of course they don’t stop there. They litigate for policies that drive out jobs, and compel the U.S. Forest Service to make rules that result in the building of fuel loads in our national forests so we can have mega-fires. We spent a significant portion of the show discussing the Equal Access to Justice Act. Turns out that act provides neither.
Bernie Madoff

Governor Susana Martinez visited Roswell this week and also called for in-state businesses to be afforded selection preferences on government contracts. The governor recognizes the chicken and egg dilemma facing in-state businesses. Older states with larger populations have “larger” businesses doing the same lines of work. The question of course is simple. Is being “bigger” actually better? Perhaps it is sometimes. However, we are reminded that Bernie Madoff’s investment company was bigger than virtually every New Mexico-based investment management firm. And the state wound up losing millions of public pension dollars in Madoff’s ponzi scheme. At least in that case, it would appear that size did not matter.

Sgt. Leroy Petry
A home grown hero made national news this week when Sgt. Leroy Petry was awarded a Medal of Honor. From Santa Fe, Petry made the rounds on the national morning shows and afternoon news. His story is a compelling one and Sgt. Petry is most deserving of all the attention he received. Petry is a true hero.
With the budget impasse in full view by late week we referred back to a column by John Stossel that we posted back in February. In that column, Stossel explained how to balance the budget in just a few paragraphs. We also linked to the Citizens Against Taxpayer Waste website to remind ourselves of the incredible obesity that is built into every aspect of our federal government. Still, late in the week President Obama, fresh off the defeat of his own budget in the Senate by an unheard of 97-0 vote, blamed his opponents for the impasse. Incredibly he claimed he had all of “his” troops lined up to reform government spending. Why are we skeptical of his claims and how did he round up all those Democrat votes behind closed doors? It looked like dancing to us.

Susana Martinez
Late in the week news came that New Mexico’s economy is throwing off more tax revenues that had been previously projected. Are Susana Martinez’ “open for business” attitudes and policies already helping draw businesses and jobs to the state? It is too early to say for sure. Two things seem certain. The state’s unemployment rate is falling while the national unemployment rate is rising. And the state budget is on the mend while the federal government budget is in shambles.
Eric Holder
We played an audio clip of Assistant U.S. Attorney General David Ogden from a 2009 press conference. In the clip Ogden said that the Department of Justice’s Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms division would be implementing a gun running prevention - gun tracing operation. Then we played a tape of A.G. Attorney General Eric Holder doing his impression of Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes. While testifying in front of a congressional committee on why ATF agents were ordered to look the other way and allow dubious weapons transactions to be consummated, Holder claimed he first heard of the operation just recently. Somebody, either Ogden two years ago or Holder this spring seems to have gotten their facts wrong. We think it is Holder.
Sheila Jackson-Lee
U.S. House member Sheila Jackson-Lee seemed to get her “isms” mixed up on Friday while defending the president. In the wake of some serious push back from other elected officials on the idea of engaging in open-ended and unchecked borrowing, Jackson-Lee probably meant to blame the push back on socialism. Instead she blamed it on racism. It is an easy mistake. Any socialist could make it.
Janice Arnold-Jones
And finally our good friend Janice Arnold-Jones made if official near the end of the week when she announced her candidacy for the open seat in U.S. House Congressional District #1 serving mostly Albuquerque. The announcement came as no surprise. In late June Arnold-Jones made her intentions pretty clear in a press release when she announced a significant ramping up of her exploratory committee staff. Jones said she also had plans to make additional hires in the weeks ahead. Though we don’t endorse candidates on News New Mexico, we can say, after working with our former colleague Janice Arnold-Jones day in and day out for many months, she can do the job she is seeking and she can do it well.