Balderas Has Evidence of Accomplices in Block Scam

Hector Balderas
NewsNM note - Spence - In Hector Balderas' appearance on News New Mexico Thursday morning he hinted that there was evidence that more people were involved in the credit card scam involving Jerome Block Jr. Now the story is being picked up by other sites including the Albuquerque Journal and Capitol Report New Mexico -  The Jerome Block Jr. story just won’t go away. Now, the state auditor’s office suspects others within the Public Regulation Commission worked in conjunction with Block to improperly use a PRC-issued gas card in EspaƱola and Santa Fe. The story first came to light by reporter Phil Parker of the Albuquerque Journal and has been picked up by the Associated Press. State auditor Hector Balderas told Parker, “I find it very likely other individuals have been involved in conspiring to defraud the state.”
Jerome Block Jr.
The reason for the suspicion? Because according to a report from the state auditor’s office, on at least five occasions Block Jr. was attending commission meetings when his gas card and personal identification number were being used elsewhere. For example, back in June the PRC was meeting in Clayton and according to the minutes of the hearing, Block was in attendance. But on that same day, a state gas card using Block’s PIN made four separate purchases in EspaƱola. According to the auditor’s report, since 2009 Block’s PIN was used to make charges on 18 different gas cards, 17 of which were assigned to vehicles used by PRC employees. PRC chief of staff Johnny Montoya told the Journal he thinks there is no evidence to suggest that anyone at the PRC besides Block was improperly using the gas card but he and his agency will cooperate fully with a complete audit of the department, which is scheduled next week by the private firm Atkinson and Co. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Steve Jobs Warned Obama About: Education Unions and Costly Regulations

Politico - Steve Jobs told President Barack Obama he was “headed for a one-term presidency,” citing the U.S.’s competitive disadvantages with China and a “crippled” education system, a new biography of the former Apple CEO indicates. “You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” Jobs told Obama in a meeting last year where he asserted that the White House needed to be more friendly toward business, according to the Huffington Post, which obtained a copy of Walter Isaacson’s forthcoming book, “Steve Jobs.”
Jobs also told Obama that “regulations and unnecessary costs” put the United States at a competitive disadvantage with China, where companies can build factories more cheaply. The recently deceased Jobs also told Obama that the education system was “crippled by union work rules,” according to Isaacson. Jobs proposed principals be able to hire and fire teachers based on merit, and to extend the length of both the school day and academic year. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Energy Department Loans $529 Million to Car FINLAND

Newsnm note - Spence- Some public policies are so stupid they seem almost....made up. Nope. Not this one. Read this and weep. ABC - With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work. Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department's $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the company's manufacturing jobs are still limited to the assembly of the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car in Finland. "There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle," the car company's founder and namesake told ABC News. "They don't exist here." Read full story here: News New Mexico

Center for Biological Diversity Lawyers Win Another Court Battle

The Center for Biological Diversity issued a press release on Thursday declaring victory in an appeal challenging the 11,000-acre “Bonito” logging project near Ruidoso. According to the group in an Oct. 19 letter the Forest Service conceded that its approval of the logging violated the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by: Defying forest canopy cover requirements of the Lincoln Forest Plan;
Failing to maintain old-growth forest as required by the plan;
Overlooking impacts to forest soil with moderate and severe erosion hazard.
The Forest Service had approved the logging even though its own analysis showed that it would remove more forest canopy than its own rules protecting northern goshawk and Mexican spotted owl allow. The agency also tried to remove more large trees than its own rules allow in old-growth-deficient forests. “We support active management to restore forests and protect communities,” said Jay Lininger, an ecologist with the Center.


Insurer gets another chance at rate hike

From the Santa Fe New - Two weeks after state Insurance Superintendent John Franchini rejected its request, Blue Cross Blue Shield New Mexico will get a second shot to make a case for a 9.9 percent rate hike on 27,000 health care policyholders. Meanwhile, the company that covers more than 300,000 New Mexicans filed a separate request last week to raise the cost of health care premiums by 9.9 percent on 7,000 additional policyholders. An administrative hearing is scheduled in December to reconsider Blue Cross Blue Shield's request to raise rates on the 27,000 policyholders, Franchini confirmed Thursday. "There will be hearing officer assigned," Franchini said. "He is going to be directing the hearing. Information will be gathered from both parties and he will make a recommendation. He will hand it to me." The company requested the administrative hearing because a rejection of its rate hike request is "harmful to our company and the competitive environment for health insurance in our state," a Blue Cross Blue Shield spokeswoman said via email. If approved, the rate hike would represent the second in as many years for the 27,000 policyholders, who endured a rate hike approved last year that increased costs for each policyholder by 18 percent to 25 percent. Read more

"Obama's Trophy Wall"


Report: State Fair is 'operationally insolvent'

From - A new state report has damning words about the financial future of the New Mexico State Fair. The report, done by the Legislative Finance Committee and released Thursday, says the fair is essentially bankrupt and is continuing to operate only because it has not paid key creditors. The largest amount owed is $1.9 million to the New Mexico General Services Department for insurance coverage dating back several years. The report says the fair has also failed to properly manage two contracts - the lease with the Downs at Albuquerque and the carnival concessions contract. "In short, the New Mexico State Fair is operationally insolvent," the report says. "The New Mexico State Fair has been losing money for many years and currently lacks financial leadership. Including depreciation, operational losses totaled $17 million from FY06 through FY10 and cash reserves have been exhausted." The report says a "combination of management and legislative actions" are needed to correct the fair's financial problems. Those include changing the fair from being a self-sufficient "enterprise agency" of the state and instead placing it under the oversight of a number of state agencies, including the State Personnel office, the Department of Finance and Administration and the General Services Department. Within that framework, possible changes suggested in the report include shortening the length of the fair, tightening the management of contracts and cash collection and doing more preventative maintenance to avoid expensive emergency repairs. Read more