AG thumbs his nose at contribution limits

From NM - by Heath Haussamen - Attorney General Gary King’s latest outrageous action is accepting a campaign contribution of $15,000 less than a year after a law limiting donations to $5,000 – a law he supported – took effect. Yes, you can slap your forehead now. The AG supported contribution limits with his words, but with his newest action, he’s attempting to circumvent the new law. The cap of $5,000 per election (one each for a primary and general election) took effect Nov. 3, 2010. But King’s newest finance report, filed Tuesday, reveals that he accepted a $15,000 contribution from the New York law firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger and Grossmann on Sept. 22 of this year. Here’s how King spokesman Phil Sisneros justified the donation: “The contribution was for retirement of debt from the attorney general’s 2010 re-election campaign and subject to 2010 reporting requirements. As such, we are confident the contribution does not fall within the limits of the new law. And just so you know, the NY firm does not have any contracts with the AGO.” No contracts with the AG. I feel so much better.
Not. Read more

Assessing the GOP Presidential Field

Jim Spence
Independents in New Mexico, better known by the derisive term: “Decline to State,” will not be able to vote in the Republican Presidential Primary next year. Still, those of us who align ourselves with neither party will enjoy watching the GOP battle for the presidential nomination. With the future of the country hanging in the balance, and at the risk of appearing to take sides, let’s review the field. Gary Johnson – no chance. Rick Santorum – no chance. Ron Paul – no chance. Newt Gingrich - too anxious to prove he is smarter than everyone else so - no chance. John Huntsman - no chance. Michelle Bachman – no chance. Rick Perry is too well connected to the sort of pastor who pisses people off. Also Perry gave too much support to Al Gore once upon a time. And Perry has spent too many years working in government instead of working at a real private sector job - no chance. 
Now let’s get to the two choices emerging as the most likely winners of the GOP nomination.
Mitt Romney is a guy with a smooth delivery. He is always well-dressed and well-prepared. He manages to not have an edge to him, even while he is saying edgy things. He has been successful in business, though he certainly was blessed with significant start-up capital that came from his parents.
Mitt Romney
Romney has governed. However, he governed in a state where he decided it was wise to plant a kiss on the big fat backside of Ted Kennedy because Teddy helped him pass a healthcare plan that featured insurance purchase mandates, federal assistance, and a bigger state bureaucracy. And of course Romney has modified his position on abortion so many times nobody knows what he believes. It is not so much that what he really believes matters as much it is all of the convenient switches he made on something that both sides consider to be an issue of “conscience.”
Ted Kennedy
Now we come to Herman Cain. Cain is a self-made man. He is the son of a cleaning woman and a chauffeur. Cain’s rise through the ranks of Pillsbury was all about merit and a remarkable array of skills. Cain holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in computer science. His experience with the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City suggests a level of financial sophistication that goes far beyond that of his competitors. More important, Cain connects with people on a human level. His explanations on how to fix America are steeped in common sense. And when compared to the nuanced deflections that come from Romney when he explains why he felt compelled to turn the Massachusetts health care system over to bureaucrats, Cain appears authentic. Some say Cain doesn’t have foreign policy experience. Neither did Reagan. Many say Cain can’t win. They said the same thing about Reagan right before he landslided an incumbent.
Herman Cain
As the GOP nomination race unfolds it has become clear that Cain is surging because his impressive lifetime resume and his message are consistent with each other. There’s more. In 2008 Barrack Obama captured 95% of the black vote. There is no other way to describe this single statistic other than to call it the most remarkable voting block in the nation. Over the last three years that same voting block has seen its economic fortunes plummet and plummet perhaps more dramatically than any other “group.” And coincidentally, it is in this block, more than any other voting block, that racial background and unrelated policies become practically inseparable. Herman Cain is offering to "lead" the voters including the black voters. Every other candidate in both parties is attempting to “manage” the black voters. Cain’s personal story of success and achievement is compelling. And unlike any other candidate, Herman Cain is living proof of what he believes. His life story will resonate with black voters and Democratic insiders know this. Cain is the only member of the GOP field who can create a cross-over voting effect on a massive scale. If only one in three black voters goes with Cain instead of Obama in the general election, it is hard to see how Cain would not win in a landslide.
Ooops. Wait a second. We are not talking about the general election....we are talking about the Republican primary. Hmmm. Will Republicans, people who say they want so desperately to win in 2012, be smart enough to see why Herman Cain can landslide Barrack Obama? Are the majority of GOP primary voters capable of envisioning the shift in the paradigms that a Cain nomination would entail? Time will tell.
We have been watching both Democrats and Republicans in America make one stupid decision after another when it comes to leadership. It is a distinct possibility that GOP voters will continue to blame the nation’s failing fortunes on the rise of big government, while remaining too oblivious to the obvious to recognize a true merchant of dramatic change when he is sitting right under their proverbial noses. It Republicans miss the incredible opportunity Herman Cain presents to America, they will surely continue to get precisely the government they deserve.


Martinez Signs Capital Outlay Scolds Legislators

Susana Martinez
SANTA FE – Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced that she has signed SB 10, legislation passed during the recent special session that provides approximately $86 million in funding for capital projects throughout New Mexico. The bill focuses funding on projects of regional and statewide importance, a key reform that Governor Martinez has instituted to ensure that capital dollars are focused on statewide projects that will have a broad impact, as opposed to local pork projects. Included in the legislation is funding for IT equipment for the Human Services Department that will help to better facilitate the delivery of Medicaid, TANF, and other social services, as well as law enforcement and senior citizen service vehicles, much-needed upgrades to state corrections and health facilities, and a dramatically scaled down set of statewide construction projects.
Alongside business and labor organizations, as well as Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the Governor supported a larger capital outlay bill, totaling $212.7 million, because it would have provided over $170 million in funding for construction projects that would have created jobs for New Mexicans, beginning during the winter season. It also contained over $40 million in funding for road maintenance throughout the state, which has greatly suffered in recent years.
“This bill provides necessary funding to a number of important projects throughout the state of New Mexico, and I am pleased to sign it. It also reflects my commitment to ensuring that capital outlay funds are used to support projects of regional and statewide importance,” said Governor Martinez. “However, legislators had the opportunity to support projects that would lead to New Mexico businesses hiring New Mexico workers right away, and instead, they signaled to struggling contractors and unemployed workers that they simply need to wait.”
Legislators also failed to even consider a fix to the high-wage tax credit law that took effect in 2004, which provides a tax credit to companies that open their doors in New Mexico and create high-wage jobs. Due to a recent interpretation of language in the bill that would dramatically reduce the size of the tax credit, a simple change in the law would have not only made it consistent with how it has previously been applied in New Mexico, but would also ensure predictability for the businesses that utilize the tax credit and the workers who are employed by them.


King Raises Retroactive Contributions Above Limit

Gary King
KOB TV - Attorney General Gary King says money raised to retire his 2010 campaign debt isn't covered by newly imposed caps on political contributions. King reported Tuesday receiving a $15,000 contribution last month from a New York City law firm. A King spokesman said contribution limits that took effect after the November general election don't apply to fundraising for the 2010 elections. King has a campaign debt of $248,000. Read full story here: News New Mexico

"Makers versus Takers"


A Deal That Stinks to High Heaven

Last week we learned of yet another absurd conflict of interest story that seems to be all to pervasive in New Mexico politics. This one involves a sweetheart deal that took place two years ago. Just last week Democratic Party activist and district court judge Sarah Singleton ruled the entire arrangement to be legally kosher. And with the ruling it seems we have yet another perfect example of how something might be technically “legal” without being either ethical or moral.
Judge Sarah Singleton
The deal in question came about as the result of agreements by Santa Fe County and the State of New Mexico to provide millions of dollars in funds and other considerations for private developers to build a movie studio in Santa Fe in 2009. The terms of the scheme were nothing if not remarkably brazen. Somehow Santa Fe county commissioners and the New Mexico state government agreed to give Santa Fe Studios partners: which included Current State Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales, Lance Hool, Jason Hool and Conrad Hool the following: land, free water utility hookups, a $10 million grant and a $6.5 million loan. Why? Somehow these men convinced elected officials and/or decision makers that it was in the “public interest” to construct this particular facility to “lure Hollywood producers to New Mexico.” How could such a scheme come off? It seems that a longtime friendship between the principals and former Governor Bill Richardson provided significant political lubricant in the funding process.
Javier Gonzales
The information for this story comes to us courtesy of a story published on Capitol Report New Mexico last week. According to CRNM, State Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales said recently that he has since “detached himself” from the project. When we attempted to contact Gonzales to determine exactly what “detaching” meant in financial terms, we received no response.
Several basic questions about the culture of government in New Mexico come to mind. Was this good stewardship of state and county taxpayer dollars? Was it reasonable or ethical for a State Democratic Party Chairman to be on the receiving end of a $10 million grant, a $6.5 loan, free land, and free utility hookups from a government where he is presumed to have so much influence? Would this be the sort of opportunity available to everyone in New Mexico including those who are not well-connected politically? Will there be an alternative explanation forthcoming from Mr. Gonzales regarding his financial involvement and subsequent “detachment?" Or is this story just going to lay there and stink while those involved hope it goes away or gets buried by the passage of time?


Santa Fe Walmart Supercenter, years in the making, finally opens

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Sandra Baltazar MartÍnez - Workers inside the sprawling new Walmart Supercenter on Santa Fe's southwestern edge were busy as bees as they prepared for the Wednesday morning grand opening. Men and women, uniformed in blue and khaki, cleaned the glass doors, unpacked Christmas decorations in the garden center or packed freshly made bolillo rolls in the bakery section. A full grocery section that includes the bakery, fresh produce, and meat and poultry is one of the major differences between the Supercenter and the older Walmart farther up Cerrillos Road. "We try to cater to the community," store manager B.J. Ticho said Tuesday as he led a reporter through the 140,000-square-foot building decked out with bright blue counters and walls and spacious aisles. Catering in this case can mean having a big freezer that holds only Bueno tamales, chile and hominy. It can also refer to the frozen cow's stomach lining for a typical menudo breakfast, the piñatas brought in from an Artesia vendor, and other products popular with Hispanic shoppers, Ticho said. So far, Ticho is managing 301 employees, and he plans to keep hiring until he reaches about 325. After years of controversy over development issues and whether another big-box chain outlet should be welcomed into the community, the Supercenter will open to the public with fanfare. Read more

UFO Museum: Change of plans

NewsNM: Swickard - my distant cousin Jack Swickard if you notice same last name. From - By: Joe Bartels, - Two years ago, UFO Museum and Research Center officials broke ground on a new $25 million complex near the heart of downtown Roswell. On Tuesday, officials announced the project has been completely scrapped. The square city block the UFO Museum purchased and began clearing will now be sold. The sign advertising the new home for the UFO Museum and Research Center has been chopped down. "We're here to stay downtown, the UFO Museum will be remaining downtown," said Jack Swickard with the UFO Museum. The Museum did not say whether funding the multi-million dollar museum complex was ever an issue. However, an option for the Museum to stay where it is at is now on the table. "We now have been able to secure, not only a long term lease, but an option to buy the property," Swickard explained. City officials are concerned about what will be put in the spot where the new museum was going to be built. Sources said the list price for the land on Main Street could be over $2 million dollars. "Really a multitude of uses [for the land] but anything that would really benefit the community, whether it be from a jobs standpoint whether it be a construction standpoint," said Roswell City planner Michael Vickers. Museum officials said they are drawing up plans that would rehab their existing building. Officials also said they are currently in negotiations with businesses that are just to the north of the Museum's location. Read more

Mary Jane Garcia Talks Redistricting

Mary Jane Garcia
Many constituents that I represent have raised their concern that nothing was done during the recent redistricting session and I believe they deserve a response. This year’s redistricting legislative session was expensive, contentious and has caused much disappointment to many New Mexicans there is no denying that. I and my Senate colleagues understand the frustration that the public has with the outcome of the session, especially when our constituents wonder why it took nineteen days to develop redistricting legislation that was ultimately vetoed by Governor Martinez.
The true story of the redistricting session is anything but nineteen wasted days of golfing and time spent not doing anything. The story of the redistricting session was one of preserving the sacred rights of equal representation and voting rights granted to us through the New Mexico Constitution and United States Constitution. It was a continuation of the fight that African Americans faced when they willfully met the gnashing of canine teeth, blasting of water cannons, burning of tear gas and pounding of police batons in Selma, Alabama all to guarantee the right to vote. It was the fight of the Native American, which for nearly 172 years, from the inception of our country, did not have the right to vote. It was the persistence of Hispanics fighting to not have their political voice diluted by clever gerrymandering of district lines. This story was the great modern day reminder of the sacrifice leading to the approval of women’s suffrage. Read full column here: News New Mexico