Neighbor chases Kidnapper, saves girl: 6-year-old girl taken from playground

From - The 6-year-old girl was taken by a stranger from a playground right outside her South Valley home. The girl lives at the Vista Del Sol mobile home park near Blake and Unser SW. Police say she was on the playground at around 4 p.m. Monday when a man in a green van pulled up. An alert neighbor says the man tried to coax the little girl into his van. “The child was being resistant to his enticement, and that is what caused him to get out of the car and actually push her into the van,” said Officer Robert Gibbs with the Albuquerque Police Department. The neighbor then jumped into his own car and chased after Phil Garcia, the suspected kidnapper, while calling 911. Officers say Garcia realized he was being followed and tried to drive onto the mesa to lose the neighbor. Instead he ended up crashing about a mile and a half from the kidnapping scene. Garcia ran. The neighbor jumped out of his car and pulled the little girl from the van. Police showed up seconds later and caught Garcia on the mesa. Officers say the neighbor is a hero and without him this story could have ended horribly. Read more


Crews installing newer, stronger bridges in Ruidoso

From - Three years after powerful flood waters tore through Ruidoso, the installation of newer, stronger bridges has begun to replace ones that were washed away. Temporary bridges were built to cross the Rio Ruidoso since the massive floods in 2008. Construction crews are half way done with the first of 10 bridges that are slated to be replaced within the village. Crews lowered cement segments, weighing several tons each, into place to create the new Eagle Drive Bridge located in the heart of Mid-Town Ruidoso. The old one was swept away by raging flood waters. "About 14 inches of rain was dropped up on the mountain and came down through this little stream here," said Utilities Director Randall Camp. "It took out 12 of 24 bridges in the village." The million dollar bridge was paid for partially by FEMA and the rest by the state. Camp explained. "A lot of the structures we had were 40, 50 years old and they just weren't designed to handle the types of flows we saw in 2008." Read more


Block Jr. admits to prescription drug addiction, determined to stay in office

From the Santa Fe New - Embattled Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. admitted to battling an addiction with prescription drugs Tuesday but refused to step down despite repeated calls from other elected officials. “I’ve been battling an addiction with a prescription pills medication and it’s something that’s been rough,” Block said in a small news conference after Tuesday’s PRC hearing. “I’m getting treatment for it. It’s a daily battle.” Despite being asked repeatedly, Block would not say what drugs he was addicted to or how many. He also declined to provide medical records as evidence of his addiction. At one point, Block said he had undergone therapy but would not say whether he had checked into rehab. “The battle I am facing is a battle a lot of New Mexicans are facing right now,” Block said. “Addiction doesn’t spare anybody. Unfortunately I am caught up and seeking help and doing better.” Block’s statement about his addiction came as the drumbeat for his resignation continues and he faces felony charges in a two-year old case at the same time new allegations about abusing his state-issued gas card. Read more


The one million-dollar impeachment

From Capitol Report New Mexico - Since Jerome Block Jr. says he won’t resign (click here for that story), the most likely — and quickest — way to remove him from the Public Regulation Commission is impeachment. But that may not be so quick. And according to some rough estimates by a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, it probably won’t come cheaply either. Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) says impeaching Block could take about 20 legislative days and cost about $1 million. Egolf, who has been one of a number of state legislators urging Block Jr. to resign, is meeting with Rep. Nate Gentry (R-Albuquerque) next week with members of the Legislative Council Service to go over some of the particulars of a possible impeachment proceeding against the 34-year-old Block, who is facing multiple allegations, including misuing a state-issued gas card and a complaint concerning a car that was reported stolen. Block had earlier paid fines totalling $21,000 for charging campaign funds in his 2008 election to the PRC for a rally that was never held. Whatever political support Block had in recent months has almost completely eroded. Gov. Susana Martinez has called for his resignation. That’s not too surprising, considering that Block is a Democrat and Martinez a Republican. But the chairman of the state Democratic party has also called for Block to step down, as have eight party chairmen in the counties he represents. So why would it take so long — and cost so much — for Block to get convicted on impeachment charges? Read more


Ten Reasons to Shut the Rail Runner Down Now

Paul Gessing
At last, more than five years after it went into service, New Mexico taxpayers are being given a clearer picture of the Rail Runner’s finances. And, far from costing $400 million to build (as contemporary estimates led the public and legislators to believe), the latest information available indicates that the train will cost $843.3 million for infrastructure costs alone. These payments include two lump sum payments of $230 million per year in 2025 and 2027 which enabled then Governor Richardson to take credit for the project while sticking future elected leaders and taxpayers in with the bill. This “buy now,” pay later mentality is what got so many American homeowners into trouble and it is why the nation’s credit rating has been downgraded. The practice must be stopped. As if putting off the actual payment of infrastructure costs were not enough, the aforementioned tally of expenses does not include annual operating costs of $23.8 million, of which only about 14 percent are paid by fares. The following is a list of ten reasonsthat it makes sense for Gov. Martinez to do the current and future taxpayers of New Mexico a favor by shutting down the Rail Runner. Read full column here: New New Mexico

Washington: Debt and Spending, Just the Facts

The waste in Washington has swelled beyond belief and it has done so thanks to both parties the last ten years. Take a look at the facts (CBO). Below are the levels of national debt and the billions added to the deficit each year. The totals get to a Trillion the final year of the Bush presidency and balloon even worse since then.

Year Debt    Billions added
2000 5.674
2001 5.807 133
2002 6.228 421
2003 6.783 555
2004 7.379 596
2005 7.933 554
2006 8.507 574
2007 9.008 501
2008 10.025 1017 4.351 Trillion Bush Total (8 years)
2009 11910 1885
2010 13562 1652 3.537 Trillion Obama Total (2 years)

Year Spending
2001 1862
2002 2010
2003 2160
2004 2293
2005 2472
2006 2655
2007 2728
2008 2982 17.3 Trillion Bush Total (8 years)
2009 3517
2010 3456
2011 3818 10.791 Trillion Obama Total (2 years)


Pit Rule # 17 Scrutinized

We found a report on State and Local Oil and Gas Revenue in New Mexico over the last four years. Keep in mind that prices and volume also effect total revenue.
FY 2007 - $ 2,007,659,533
FY 2008 - $ 2,451,175,188
PIT RULE # 17 enacted
FY 2009 -  $ 1,955,176,459
FY 2010 - $1,658,694,937 (estimated)

The 800 million dollar question for New Mexicans is this: Did Pit Rule # 17 cause the state revenue pipeline to spring a leak? Look at all the data here: News New Mexico


What Buffett Writes Now Versus Then: Part I

Jim Spence
An op-ed piece by Warren Buffett appeared in the New York Times on Monday August 15th. As a multiple decade follower of Mr. Buffett and his partner Charles Munger, and a dedicated reader of Buffett’s letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, it was to say the least, a fascinating series of contradictions.
Warren Buffett
The first Buffett statement that struck us as strange was this one: “While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan…..” We are mindful of the fact that many Americans feel our government should not be involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, not to mention removing tens of thousands of troops stationed in other places. Many believe there are many policies that can keep America safe at a much lower cost, both in terms of blood and treasure.
Next Buffett opines as follows: “Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.” This statement indicates that most of Buffett’s income was produced by capital gains earned on dollars that had already been taxed at least once.
Buffett adds, “If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.” In using the term, “making money with money,” Buffett is defining a process that provides precious seed capital. Capital deployment creates jobs. There is nothing wrong and everything right about structuring incentives that result in the forming and deployment of capital. In fact, this incentive is preferable to incentives for consumption, especially in the long run. Our problem is not investors earning returns that are too high. It is that they are earning returns that are too low.
Buffett confuses the issues for the reader when he says: “To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue.” Most people understand the revenue “sources,” but not everyone understands the incentive structures that control government revenue sources. Charlie Munger teaches us that the proper structuring of incentives is the key to management. Producing the desired behavior requires a careful consideration of incentives according to Charlie.
Buffett inadvertently explains the flawed incentive structure of government revenues as follows: “Last year about 80 percent of these revenues [the government’s] came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes.” Again, it is critical to recognize that since 51% of all households do not participate in the cost of their government by contributing income taxes, there is insufficient incentive in society for cost-cutting.
Ironically, Buffett has written volumes on the importance of “cost cutting.” Apparently, the only exception Buffett has for writing about the importance of controlling costs is when attempts are made to apply this crucial principle to government. It is also extraordinarily important to point out that in America, payroll tax collections are not escrowed and segregated in retirement accounts as intended by the social security program when it was established. We will continue with part II of this series tomorrow.


Dueling Press Releases from DPNM and GOPNM

Last week the state Democratic Party took a shot at Governor Susana Martinez in a press release called, "The Two Faces of Susana Martinez." In the release, the New Mexico Democratic Party's Executive Director Scott Forrester claimed Governor Martinez's administration is steering state business to Darren White of Albuquerque through a contract to do security at Expo-NM (State Fair). Recently, Darren White was at the center of a controversy before being cleared of any wrong doing by Albuquerque police in an inquiry related to a traffic accident involving his wife.
The state Republican Party responded to the Democrat’s press release by saying the claims made were “completely and utterly false.” According to the GOP response, “Darren White does not have a contract with Expo NM, nor does he have any contracts with the state of New Mexico.”
Susana Martinez
Since the release and the response we have not seen any subsequent press releases from the office of NM Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales or Scott Forrester that reaffirms their claims that White has contracts with the state. And we had seen no retractions of the press release either. Yesterday when we contacted Forrester he responded with this statement. "Susana's political operative Jay McKleskey solidified a contract with a current Expo NM lease-holder to his buddy and Susana's crony Darren White. The whole thing stinks of cronyism."
It would seem that the wording of this statement from Forrester actually does correct the press release on White without saying so. The DPNM is now tying Darren White to a current Expo NM leaseholder (not ExpoNM or the state) through a “solidified” contract by Jay McCleskey. It would seem with this statement that White might be a subcontractor to a contractor who holds a lease with the state fair.


Obama: "As Gas Prices Keep Going Up"

The Hill - The country’s automakers should ditch their focus on SUVs and trucks in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, President Obama said Monday. “You can’t just make money on SUVs and trucks,” Obama said during a town hall forum in Cannon Falls, Minn. “There is a place for SUVs and trucks, but as gas prices keep on going up, you have got to understand the market. People are going to try to save money.” Obama has positioned the revival and reshaping of the auto industry as a major part of his administration’s push to improve the economy and create jobs. “When I came into office they were talking about the liquidation of GM and Chrysler, and a lot of folks said you can’t help them, and it’s a waste of the government’s money to try and help them,” Obama said Monday. “But what I said was, we can’t afford to lose up to a million jobs in this country, particularly in the Midwest.” Obama was speaking at the start of a three-day bus tour of the Midwest. Read full story here: News New Mexico

PNM Rates Go Up on August 21st

Business Week - The state's largest electric utility says a 9.2 percent base rate increase approved by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has been finalized. Public Service Company of New Mexico, a unit of PNM Resources Inc., says its bills will be calculated using the new rates starting Aug. 21. The utility serves 550,000 customers. PNM says the average residential customer in central and northern New Mexico and Deming can expect their bill to increase by $1.26 a month, or 1.9 percent. Officials say that reflects both a basic rate increase and a drop in their fuel and energy efficiency charge. PNM says 51,000 customers in southern New Mexico will no longer have separate rates from other PNM customers. The average residential bill in southern New Mexico will go up by about $7 a month, or 10.8 percent. read full story here: News New Mexico

Evergreen Solar Goes Belly Up - Governor Patrick Does NOT Regret Losing $58 Million of Taxpayer Dollars

Boston Herald - Evergreen Solar Inc., the Massachusetts clean-energy company that received millions in state subsidies from the Patrick administration for an ill-fated Bay State factory, has filed for bankruptcy, listing $485.6 million in debt. Evergreen, which closed its taxpayer-supported Devens factory in March and cut 800 jobs, has been trying to rework its debt for months. The cash-strapped company announced today has sought a reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware and reached a deal with certain note holders to restructure its debt and auction off assets.
The Massachusetts Republican Party called the Patrick administration’s $58 million financial aid package, which supported Evergreen’s $450 million factory, a “waste” of money.
“The bankruptcy of Evergreen Solar is another sad event for the Massachusetts company and highlights the folly of the Patrick-Murray Administration which has put government subsidies into their pet projects instead of offering broad based relief to all Bay State employers,” said Jennifer Nassour, head of the state GOP. Greg Bialecki, Patrick’s economic development czar, defended the administration’s support for the once-promising Evergreen. The state is still trying to recoup about $4 million in cash from the Marlboro-based company. “Not every company is going to be successful ... but we still believe the approach of providing business incentives to create and maintain manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts is an important strategy,” he said. Evergreen — hurt by lower-cost competition in China and plummeting prices for solar panels — also said it will cut more jobs — 65 layoffs in the United States and Europe, mostly through the shutdown of its Midland, Mich., manufacturing facility. That would leave Evergreen with about 68 workers according to a head count listed in the bankruptcy filing. To cut costs, Evergreen shifted some of its production to Wuhan, China, last year. That joint venture will remain operating subject to financing talks with Chinese investors. In January, after Evergreen announced it would close the Devens factory, Patrick told the Herald he was disappointed in the job losses but did not regret making the investment. “I think we did what we could have and should have,” he told the Herald. Read the full story here: News New Mexico

Record Cold in 2011 Shifts to Southern Hemisphere

NZ Herald - Climate scientist Georgina Griffiths of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said yesterday was the coldest day ever recorded in Auckland. The temperature got up to only 8.2C - compared with the previous lowest high of 8.7C, on July 4, 1996. The last time snow settled on the ground in the city was 1939. It fell to ground level at the airport in 1976. The snow caused waves of excitement in Auckland. Kevin Prohl saw a snow flurry as he was driving around Western Springs and described it as a fairy tale. "Looking at oncoming drivers and seeing their smiles as we were fascinated by this unusual occurrence - it was truly delightful to see, yet all too short." Richard Brown, 53, has lived in Auckland his entire life and had never seen snow in the city. Read entire story here: News New Mexico