Albuquerque opens early election voting

From - Albuquerque voters can begin having their say on City Council candidates, red-light cameras and $214 million in bond proposals starting Wednesday. Early voting continues through Sept. 30 for the Oct. 4 elections with polling sites open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For the first time on Election Day Albuquerque voters will be able to vote at any polling place in the city. A complete list of early voting sites and regular polling places and be found on the city clerk's website . The 12 bond proposals would pay for libraries, streets and other improvements and help pay for rebuilding the Paseo del Norte and Interstate 25 interchange. Another would fund construction of a sports complex. City officials said that none of the bond proposals would result in a tax increase. Also on the ballot are the controversial red light camera program and four City Council seats. Read more

Ban recommended on trucker cell use and texting

From the El Paso Times - BRETT BARROUQUERE, AP - LOUISVILLE - No cellphones while driving, period. That's the rule the National Transportation Safety Board wants for the nation's more than 2.8 million truckers and bus drivers. The change proposed Tuesday would be among the most sweeping highway safety measures since the push for mandatory seat belts decades ago, but many truckers think it goes too far, especially because it would bar not only hand-held but hands-free devices. The NTSB enthusiastically endorsed the ban after ruling on a fiery Kentucky wreck that killed a trucker and 10 people in a van on their way to a wedding. The board said the trucker was distracted by his hands-free cellphone. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said similar recommendations about phone use have already been made in aviation and for ship operators. CB radio use would not be affected. "It may not be something that's widely embraced. This is not going to be popular. But, we're not here to be popular. We're here to do what needs to be done," Hersman said. The NTSB lacks the authority to make such regulations. It sent its recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and all 50 states for action. The U.S. Department of Transportation bars commercial drivers from texting while driving, and violators are subject to civil penalties of up to $2,750. Some states ban everyone from using hand-held cellphones while driving. Read more

Cuba to drill six oil wells off Florida coast

From the Campaign 2012, the Washington Examiner - byMark Tapscott Editorial Page Editor - President Obama and his Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have all but shut down the U.S. oil and natural gas industry drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but foreign powers like China, Cuba and Venezuela aren't hesitating to move in to take advantage of America's bureaucratic paralysis. Global Post reports preparations are moving forward for six wells in an area off the Florida coast in which U.S. experts have estimated could contain five billion barrels of oil. The Cubans are moving to tap into this potential energy bonanza with extensive aid from China, which built the massive drilling rig, and Hugo Chavez' Venezuela, which is providing drilling and production expertise. A Spanish firm, Repsol, with partners in Norway's Statoil and Italy's Saipem, will oversee the operation. For more from Global Post, go here. Not by coincidence, the latest data on U.S. drilling activity shows a continuing decline in the number of rigs in operation. The Washington Post reports this morning that another 10 units stopped operating, leaving a total of 1,958. Read more

Commentary: The great outdoors giveaway

From NM - By Nathan Newcomer, associate director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. - Congressman Pearce is an original co-sponsor of the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, or more aptly put, the Great Outdoors Giveaway Act. This risky legislation would open tens of millions of acres of protected public land to full-scale development, including 2 million acres in New Mexico. The legislation gives polluters and developers, who already have access to 76 percent of all national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, access to even more of America’s vanishing wilderness. This bill is a blank check for polluters to ruin the air we breathe and water we drink. The Great Outdoors Giveaway would undermine decades of land protection in one fell swoop, and if signed into law would leave only 12 percent of our national forests and BLM lands off limits to development. If Congress were to pass this legislation, the American public would witness the worst sell-off of our nation’s most scenic treasures in living memory. Read more

Flight on 9/11 anniversary ends in handcuffs for housewife

From - By Elizabeth Chuck - Shoshana Hebshi will never forget where she was on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. She and two other airline passengers were handcuffed and strip-searched after flying into Detroit on Sunday. No charges were filed against Hebshi, a self-described "half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife living in suburban Ohio," or the two men sitting next to her, who were flying in from Denver when the crew of Frontier Airlines Flight 623 alerted authorities that they were reportedly behaving suspiciously. In a blog post titled "Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit," Hebshi, an American citizen, told her tale of temporary detainment, which she had begun to share with Twitter followers in real-time — until handcuffs were placed on her wrists. Hebshi, a writer and editor and mother of twin sons, didn't know the other two passengers in Row 12. They were Indian men, she wrote. And they didn't know each other. But they got a lot closer when they were all crammed into the back of a squad car. What happened, according to Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuk, begins with a bathroom. "One of the males, who was not feeling well, got up to use the restroom during the flight. The other male got up at approximately the same time to use the restroom. The female remained seated in her row," the FBI said in a statement. Read more

"Pass the Pork"


UNM Golf Courses Losing Money

KOB - TV - UNM Championship Golf Course is in some trouble. The course is costing the school more and more money – and it is cash the school just doesn’t have. Together, UNM’s North and South golf courses cost $470,000 more than their budgets. On Tuesday, the UNM Board of Regents approved a new plan that uses a new landscaper – and social media – to help bring costs down. The school says the new new maintenance contract with Mountain West Golfscapes will save the courses about $150,000 a year. The golf offices will also put tee-time registrations online to make the courses more available to out-of-town visitors. Read full story here: News New Mexico

NM Teacher Suspected of Teaching While Drunk

From -A Belen New Mexico high school teacher has been placed on paid leave after students and school officials say they believe she was teaching while intoxicated. KOAT-TV is reporting that school officials say second-year math teacher Kathleen Jardine allegedly taught her students while drunk for more than five hours on Monday. School officials said Jardine voluntarily submitted to an alcohol and drug test and was escorted from the school grounds. If alcohol is found in her system, Jardine could be fired.  More News New Mexico

Griego Calls for $220 Million in Capital Outlay

Eric Griego
Santa Fe, NM- Sen. Eric Griego (D-Bernalillo-14) released the following statement today calling on the legislature to quickly pass and the Governor to sign two important bills that would help the state economy and create jobs. Senator Griego called on the legislature to pass the $220 million capital outlay bill and SB19, which would allow local businesses to obtain a five percent preference when bidding on state contracts. The local preference legislation would spur local jobs by preventing out-of-state companies from posing as local businesses and taking advantage of the incentives we have for local businesses bidding on state contracts. SB19 would tighten residency requirements for businesses bidding on state contracts and better enforce the existing rules. This bill has broad bipartisan support and should be passed immediately to start putting our people to work.
The capital outlay legislation is long overdue and our economy needs it now more than ever to create jobs. There are communities throughout New Mexico that can't wait any longer to benefit from the millions of dollars put toward rebuilding our infrastructure and creating local jobs. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put politics aside and pass this bill to put people back to work."


Singleton Rules Against License Verification Program

Sarah Singleton
KOAT TV is reporting that District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled on Tuesday that the state of New Mexico can only conduct an investigation if it gets a returned letter from the driver's license verification program. According to observers close to the New Mexico judiciary, the outcome of the ruling by Singleton was never in doubt. Less than two weeks ago, Judge Singleton halted the verification program and as a result, foreign nationals and illegal immigrants haven’t had to prove they live in New Mexico since the beginning of this month. Based on the size and volume of her campaign contributions, Judge Sarah Singleton is easily the most partisan Democrat judge in the entire judiciary system. According to David Collins of New Mexico Watchdog, Singleton tops the list of campaign contributors amongst all judges. Here is an excerpt from a piece Collins wrote recently regarding the extent of the Singleton contributions:
With $47,517 in contributions, Singleton’s tally of campaign giving nearly doubles that of the runner-up, 2nd Judicial District Judge Alan Malott, who was a prolific contributor before he was appointed to the bench. Selected in 2009, Singleton was enrobed in early 2010 upon the retirement of Judge Jim Hall. The month before her selection was announced, Singleton donated $500 each to the election campaigns of appeals court justices Tim Garcia, Linda Vanzi and Robert Robles. Each of those justices might be someday be called to hear appeals in cases Singleton decides in the district court. (Robles retired June 1 after he pleaded guilty in March to a charge of drunken driving, a charge which had led to his suspension from the court.)
Singleton donated a total of $5,520 to Democrat candidates in the year she was under consideration for a judicial appointment. The prior year – an election year – she contributed even more heavily, giving a total of $18,500 to national Democrat candidates and party funds. In 2007, she gave $750 to Richardson’s presidential campaign. Since taking the bench, Singleton has continued to make campaign donations – $250 to then Lt. Gov. Dianne Denish’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2010, $250 to Attorney General Gary King’s congressional campaign, $400 to the state Democratic Party and $250 to 2nd Judicial District Judge Shannon Bacon’s campaign. Last year, while serving as a district judge, Singleton donated $250 to Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia’s election funds.
Singleton has so far heard civil and family cases which more often than not don’t tend to involve testimony from sheriff’s deputies. Her 2009 appointment was not Singleton’s first time at bat in the judicial selection process. Richardson earlier that year appointed Judge Sheri Raphaelson when he could’ve chosen Singleton. The District Nominating Commission first forwarded only Raphaelson’s name to the governor’s office, but Richardson wanted more choices. The commission came back with three names, including Singleton’s. Singleton won her appointment later that year.
In a profession where impartiality and objectivity are the pillars of the process should judges make contributions to such a wide array of candidates that would seem to be woven into the very fabrics of many legal disputes in our state? In New Mexico they do and Singleton does more than any other judge.


Pearce to Attend Otero County Tree Cutting Event

Steve Pearce
Congressman Steve Pearce will participate in Otero County’s emergency tree cutting plan on September 17, 2011. Cutting will take place on one acre of the Lincoln National Forest near Cloudcroft in efforts to clean up the forest and decrease the spread of fires. “This is an important day for New Mexico,” said Pearce. “I look forward to joining in this effort to restore common-sense forest management to New Mexico. It has been an uphill battle to begin logging again in New Mexico, but September 17th will mark the beginning of increased public safety and local environmental resource management.
Fires have devastated overgrown forests, and it is time to take back our forests and protect our families. I commend the Otero County Commissioners for their efforts to bring the power back to local government.” The Otero County Commission voted in June to create an emergency plan, allowing the county to forego U.S. Forest Service policy and cut trees in the event of an emergency. They created an 80,000-acre plan that calls for responsible management to protect local watershed and prevent fires that have threatened Cloudcroft for many years. The media and public are invited to attend the event, which begins at 12:00 noon on September 17th. Congressman Steve Pearce will address a crowd attending “Lumberjack Day” at the Cloudcroft Ice Rink, across from Cloudcroft High School, to kickoff the event.


Ruidoso Residents Upset Over Local Gun Ban

From - Some Ruidoso residents are upset over a mayor's recent executive order banning guns on village property. KRQE-TV reported that residents plan to voice their outrage at a city council meeting today over an order issued by Mayor Ray Alborn banning firearms from village buildings except for law enforcement. They called the order illegal. Village officials said this ordinance was the result of a July case, when a resident at Village Hall had his gun removed by the police chief. Alborn said he took action as a protective measure.  Alborn said the village attorney assures him he has the right to make the executive order.  In 1986, New Mexico residents voted to amend the state constitution forbidding local regulation of firearms.  More News New Mexico

NM Sheriff Rejects Complaints From Fire Chief

Sheriff Todd Garrison
From -A fire chief and a paramedic have accused Dona Ana Sheriff's Office supervisors of withholding critical support during times of need, an allegation the sheriff rejects.  The fire chief and paramedic, who have more than 35 years combined experience, spoke to the Sun-News under the condition of anonymity as both fear retaliation. Both said the problem is a recurring theme, happening almost daily.  More News New Mexico

Earthquake Hits NM

From the -A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck near the New Mexico-Colorado border, rattling residents in both states. The U.S. Geological Survey says the light temblor hit at 11:24 p.m. Monday. It was centered 17 miles west of Raton, N.M., with a depth of 3.1 miles.  It came several hours after a magnitude 3.4 quake hit the area. The USGS says the smaller quake struck at 7:37 p.m. and it was centered 22 miles southwest of Trinidad, Colo.  More New New Mexico


$50,000 of Taxpayers Money for Three Hour Workdays

Tom Taylor
NewsNM note - Spence - There's an old joke that goes like this. Do you know many people work for the government? The answer: About HALF of them. During the first five days of the Special Session, House Democratic majority limits work to an average of less than 3 hours per day. Today, Republican Floor Leader Tom Taylor and Representative Nate Gentry introduced a resolution calling upon the majority Democrats to schedule legislation for committee hearings and encourage active debate and action by the House of Representatives.
Andy Nunez
The resolution was signed by House Republicans and the one independent, Andy Nunez. After a full five days of session, the majority Democratic Party has limited the House to work a total of 13 hours, an average of less than 3 hours per day. "This is unacceptable to New Mexicans who expect us to work on a few pressing issues facing this state, including repealing the dangerous law that permits illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, creating jobs in New Mexico, and improving our educational system," said Taylor. “It is important to note that while yes, redistricting is the primary focus of this session; we only have 28 bills in the pipeline. In previous sessions, we have had up to 150 by the time Monday rolls around.”
Ben Lujan
"The majority Democrats have the sole power to schedule committee hearings so that we can consider the very important issues facing this state. There has been a great deal of complaining by the Democrats that there is too much to do, but I have yet to see the majority convene committees for any significant period of time to get it done. It’s time we get to work," Gentry said. Historically, standing committees begin meeting on the second or third day. The Special Session is costing the tax payers of New Mexico approximately $50 thousand a day and is budgeted for 21 days.


Senate Democrats Accuse Martinez of Risky Business

NewsNM note - We received this press release from the Senate Democrat's Leadership - Santa Fe, NM- The Governor's proposal to transfer $130 million out of state reserves to prop up the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Fund) could jeopardize the business community, teachers, the state's most vulnerable citizens, public employees, and the state's bond rating. The Governor used her line-item veto to kill a bi-partisan business supported bill that would have provided additional money to the Fund to prevent its insolvency. "Rather than admit her veto was misguided and will actually hurt businesses, the Governor is now trying to take money from the state's cash reserves.
Dipping into our savings has to be the last resort. It makes no sense to take money from the reserves when the compromise reached during the regular session is still a viable option," said Senator John Sapien (D-Sandoval-9).
"Paying a slight increase in the employer's share as part of the cost of doing business to guarantee solvency is more acceptable than paying almost twice as much if the Fund becomes insolvent," said Senator George Munoz (D-Cibola, McKinley-4). "It is unfortunate that the Governor refused to accept the compromise reached by those most directly affected. The veto was detrimental to business," he added.
"There are many unpaid bills that we have to take care of, including the Medicaid shortfall of $100 million, and the loss of nearly $40 million in Tobacco Settlement funding. Also, the revenue projections for the current fiscal year could be off by as much as $55 million. By adding the Governor's proposal to shore up the Fund, the State's reserves may be down to nearly 3.9%. Anything below 5% could negatively impact the State's bond rating," explained Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra, 35).
John Arthur Smith
"If our reserves go below 5%, teachers and public employees will have to wait at least another year to have their wages reinstated to levels from 3 years ago. Using money from the reserves will also mean less money will be available to help many New Mexicans dependent on state programs for their most basic needs," said Senator Howie Morales (D-Catron, Grant, Socorro-28). "I cannot support a proposal that will negatively impact those least able to afford it."


Making the Case for Obamacare: Win - Win for NM

NMPolitics - by Kelly O'Donnell - Federal health-care reform (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, or PPACA) will provide health insurance to tens of thousands of previously uninsured New Mexicans and, in doing so, will bring billions of new federal dollars into our state’s economy, creating jobs, prosperity, and almost a billion dollars in new state and local tax revenue by 2020. However, if New Mexico is to receive this vital economic boost, we must do our part by aggressively implementing the new law.
Some of this new tax revenue will be used to offset New Mexico’s pennies-on-the-dollar contribution to the cost of the new coverage (the state must pay only about 4 percent of the cost, while the feds pick up the rest), but most of the new tax revenue generated by federal health-care reform will be money that New Mexico’s Legislature and local governments can spend to meet the specific needs of their constituents by creating new programs, funding existing programs like education and public safety, forestalling future tax increases, or even reducing taxes.
PPACA will bring new federal funds into New Mexico in a number of ways. Beginning in 2014, Medicaid will expand to cover all low-income New Mexicans under age 65. The New Mexico Human Services Department projects that by 2020 New Mexico will have added between 133,000 and 183,000 new Medicaid enrollees, primarily adults previously unable to afford health insurance.
Also during that period, between $6 billion and $8 billion in new federal Medicaid funds will flow into the health-care sector, creating thousands of new high-wage jobs and reverberating throughout the state economy in the form of increased economic activity and employment. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Weiner's Seat Up for Grabs

Politico - Republicans are poised for a dramatic upset in next week’s special election for a New York City congressional seat, according to a new poll out Friday. The survey, conducted by the Siena Research Institute, found Republican Bob Turner holding a 50 percent to 44 percent lead over Democrat David Weprin. The poll comes as national Democrats grow increasingly nervous about Weprin’s prospects in the race for a Brooklyn and Queens-area seat that has long favored the party.