KRQE-TV: More State Fair Troubles

From - ALBUQUERQUE - This year's numbers are out: more and more people are staying away from the state fair and once again fair revenue is way down. The fair barely broke even this year. It costs about $5-million to put on the fair. That means the fair made less than $200,000 this year. One State Senator says it's a simple fix: give people more of a reason to come through the gates. He doesn't think the fair is in danger in the short term but State Senator Tim Keller represents the area around the fairgrounds and he thinks the State Fair needs to be more ambitious if it wants to survive. Only 370,00 people paid to come through the gates this year. That's down a whopping 30% from five years ago. Keller wants more money to be spent on bigger acts. "Better concerts or whether it's the bengal tigers," added Keller. But Expo New Mexico officials say that's easier said than done. "The Willie Nelsons and the Clint Blacks (were on stage) in better economic times which the fair has done. But when the economies not so good, there's not so much money in the budget," says Michael Henningsen, Media Director of Expo New Mexico. It's a Catch-22. Expo New Mexico doesn't have enough money to hire bigger acts because the fair isn't making enough money. This year's fair brought in a half million dollars less than last year's; down more than $2-million from 2007. Read more

First blast of winter hits Wednesday

From the Santa Fe New - A fast-moving storm is expected to cause some icy winter driving conditions on Northern New Mexico roads Wednesday. Interstate 25 from Glorieta Pass east of Santa Fe through the Raton Pass at the Colorado border is likely to be hardest hit by snow and ice, according to meteorologists. It could be the first of several icy blasts in a predicted dry winter for New Mexico, a chaotic, hard-to-predict weather mix caused by two different phenomena — La NiƱa and the Arctic Oscillation. The National Weather Service in Albuquerque said Wednesday's temperatures are expected to take a double-digit drop, becoming progressively colder from midday on. Rain in the lower elevations may turn icy. Light to moderate snow will fall first at 10,000 feet elevation in northern mountains Wednesday morning and drop to lower elevations around Santa Fe and possibly into Albuquerque. Cold temperatures will last through Thursday night around Northern and Central New Mexico. By Friday, the storm will blow through on its way to drought-strangled Texas. Weather over the weekend will return to more normal sunny and dry October conditions. Read more

Lawmakers urge Workforce Solutions to start prosecuting unemployment fraud

From Capitol Report New Mexico - The amount the state’s Workforce Solutions department is overpaying in unemployment checks and New Mexico’s alarming rate of fraud — first reported last month on Capitol Report New Mexico – has prompted a couple of influential lawmakers in the Roundhouse to call for Workforce Solutions to start prosecuting people who receive money they shouldn’t be getting. In an article in this past Sunday’s edition of the Santa Fe New Mexican, reporter Kate Nash reveals that Workforce Solutions “hasn’t prosecuted anyone for fraud in the past five years, [even though] it has reported that it detected fraud of $15.7 million last year alone.” Looking at figures obtained by the US Department of Labor, Capitol Report New Mexico discovered New Mexico has the fourth-highest rate of fraud among the 50 states plus the District of Columbia when it comes to unemployment claims. According to the New Mexican article, while Workforce Solutions has some measures in place to recoup money lost due to improper payments such as garnishing wages there are “no current penalties that the department can impose for fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.” The department is looking into getting tougher on cheaters and two high-profile lawmakers are urging them to do just that. Read more

Nancy Pelosi's brother-in-law given $737m of taxpayers' money to build giant solar power plant in middle of desert

From the Daily Mail - Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal. The massive loan agreement is raising new concerns about the use of taxpayers' money as vast sums are invested in technology similar to that of the doomed energy project. The investment has intensified the debate over the effectiveness of solar energy as a major power source. The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader's brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command. PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC is listed as one of the investors in the project that has been given the staggering loan, which even dwarfs that given to failed company Solyndra. Other investors include one of the major investors in Solyndra, which is run by one of the directors of Solyndra. Steve Mitchell, who served on the board of directors at the bankrupt energy company, is also managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, which has invested in the latest project. Read more

Orlando federal judge temporarily blocks state from drug testing welfare applicants

From the Orlando Sentinel - By Amy Pavuk, - An Orlando federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked the state from drug testing welfare applicants in a case involving a Central Florida father, rejecting many of the state's claims of why the probes are legal. Luis W. Lebron, a 35-year-old University of Central Florida student who served in the Navy, applied with the Florida Department of Children and Families for emergency cash assistance this summer to help raise his 4-year-old son. The drug testing — a campaign pledge by Gov. Rick Scott — began July 1 for applicants trying to get cash assistance througha program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. From July through September, more than 21,000 applicants have been approved for welfare, and only 32 have tested positive for drugs — although the department notes another 1,597 filled out the paperwork for benefits but then declined to take the drug test. So far, the state has reimbursed more than 4,100 people who passed the test, to the tune of $57,920. Read more

Impact Fees Fact and Fiction

John Moscato
By John Mosato - Recently published comments by Greg Lennes the Las Cruces Bulletin and Michael Hays in the Las Cruces Sun-News have exhibited fundamental misunderstandings of how developmental infrastructure is built and how the new impact fees—especially the category related to roads—will mark a drastic change from the status quo. As has been the case for several decades, the City’s subdivision regulations and design standards require developers to build all of the infrastructure within the boundaries of a new subdivision. This infrastructure includes City utilities (water, sewer, and gas), drainage structures, and roads. In addition, developers arrange for the installation of wire utilities (electric, phone, and TV cable). Moreover, if adequate infrastructure has not already been extended to the boundary of the subdivision, developers are responsible for building such extensions.
Las Cruces City Hall
It appears to be a common misperception that the City pays for this developmental infrastructure. In fact, the City does not; developers do. (To its credit, the City does an admirable job of building such community-wide infrastructure as water and wastewater plants, and the City sets utility impact fees to pay for these plants.) The City regulates the planning and engineering of subdivisions through a rigorous approval process and inspects the construction as the developer’s contractors build a project. Even the approval and inspection of a project adds to the developer’s costs: the developer pays the City a permit fee of 4 percent of the cost of construction to defray the City’s expenses. The developer also pays gross receipts taxes on the costs of planning, engineering, and construction. Needless to say, the developer creates or sustains jobs at every step in the process.
What is noticeably absent from this process is the payment of impact fees by the developer. Why? The reason is simple: developers are not charged impact fees. Impact fees are levied when a home (or a commercial building, in the case of a commercial project) is built, and the impact fees are borne by the new homeowner (or business). Readers can now see how misguided Mr. Lennes was when he accused Councilor Connor of “pander[ing] to the developers by eliminating or reducing impact fees.” Developers have not paid impact fees in the past, they do not currently pay impact fees, and they will not be subject to impact fees under the new system recently approved by City Council. Developers build what the City requires. If the City determines (as it has in the past) that new homeowners or businesses are having an impact on the availability of community-wide City services, it has the right under New Mexico law to impose impact fees. Those fees have been limited to parks and certain City utilities until recently, when City Council voted to impose impact fees related to public safety, flood control, and roads. Read rest of column here: News New Mexico

"Judging Qadaffi"