N.M. Has Weak Animal Cruelty Laws

From kob.com -A pet owner accused of leaving her two dogs trapped inside a house for months without food and water will not face felony criminal charges, according to the City of Albuquerque.  Greg Wheeler, Assistant City Attorney, referred the criminal case to the District Attorney’s Office, but this week learned the DA cannot prosecute the case as a felony citing New Mexico’s laws aren’t strong enough to ensure a conviction. “I was disappointed,” Wheeler said. “When I looked at the law and compared it to other states, I saw (New Mexico) was behind the times and we need to get our statutes amended.”  More News New Mexico

DWI Unit reports one-third of Albuquerque DWI cases tossed out

From KOB-TV - By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - The number of DWI arrests in Albuquerque is on the rise. The Albuquerque Police Department's DWI Unit is reporting a 15 percent increase so far this year. If that is not bad enough, nearly one-third of those cases are thrown out and never prosecuted. As of November 23, 2011, there have been 3,159 reported DWI arrests in the City of Albuquerque. 1072 were dismissed. In 848 cases, the reason was because "the prosecution was unable to proceed." KOB Eyewitness News 4 asked Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg what that means. "I wish I could point the finger at someone and say, it's because of them," she said. Paul Heh is a retired APD Sergeant. He said officers are often double-booked at court and since they cannot be in two places at one time, there is a hierarchy for appearances. Heh said there is incentive for officers to go to court, beyond the conviction, but sometimes, they just cannot get there. "In APD, if you don't show up for court, you get a missed court notice, there's discipline involved," Heh said. Heh calls it "forced overtime." If an officer does not show up, the case gets tossed. But so many times, he says cases drag on, which means overtime, each time. "I have personally shown up 23 times on one case." He said. "The defense is just hoping that I don't show up one of these times and when I don't show up, they'll move for a dismissal." That is costing tax payers money. Brandenburg said the percentage of dismissed cases has not changed in the last 20 years. She added that there is no easy fix. Read more

Funeral homes struggle as violent deaths in Juárez decline

From the El Paso Times - By Lourdes Cardenas - JUAREZ - More than a year ago, things looked good for Juan H. Pharo, a funeral home representative. But recently he finds it very difficult to get money to support his family. "The last time that I booked a service was a week ago," said Pharo while waiting outside of the state prosecutor's office in Juárez for the relatives of those who have died in violent incidents. As he has done for more than three years, Pharo daily goes to the prosecutor's office to offer funeral services to the families who show up there to identify the body of a relative or to fill out the paperwork needed to release the body. There, Pharo and his colleagues from other funeral homes, wait for the families to offer them the best deal for a funeral. "Today (Tuesday) there are five dead people, but (the families of) two have already chosen a service," he said. "Three remain and there are five representatives of funeral homes." What represents a problem for Pharo is now a relief for most of the people in Juárez, who have seen a decrease in the violence, particularly in the number of homicides in the city. According to figures from the Fiscalia del Estado de Chihuahua, the prosecutor's office, the number of homicides has been declining this year. In January, there were 215 homicides, while in October the number reached 144 and this month there have been 98. Read more

N.M. Voters Strongly Support Tax Credits

From marketwatch.com -Survey results show large majorities in favor of creating programs that would allow children to attend schools of their parents' choice New Mexico voters strongly support tax-credit scholarships for students to attend the school of their choice, including private schools, parochial schools, and public schools, according to a survey sponsored by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and conducted by Braun Research, Inc. The American Federation for Children--the nation's voice for school choice--praised the survey, in which registered voters were asked about a legislative proposal to allow individuals and corporations to receive tax credits for donating to scholarship funds for New Mexico students. The scholarship funds would then create scholarships for students who want to go to schools better suited to their needs.   More News New Mexico

Portales Police captain shredded traffic tickets

From KRQE-TV.com - by Bill Diven - A Portales police captain has been charged with tampering with public records for allegedly destroying traffic citations before they could be filed in court.
A statement from Ninth District Attorney Matthew Chandler said Capt. Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department was arrested today. Berry is charged with three counts of tampering with a public record. The charges are fourth-degree felonies. Chandler’s statement said investigators from his office and the New Mexico State Police began looking into Berry’s activities in June after a police officer reported he was removing and shredding citations issued to a Portales resident. The resident and his or her relationship with Berry is not discussed in Chandler’s statement. Investigators allege that over nine months Berry intercepted eight traffic citations before police records personnel could file them with the appropriate court and either destroyed or hid them. As part of the investigation a search warrant was served on Portales police headquarters on Dec. 1. Berry was placed on paid leave the next day and following his arrest has agreed to resign, Chandler said. Read more

Judge Murphy Case is One for the Books

Michael Murphy
From latimes.com -A judge in Las Cruces who called himself 'rude, crude and socially unacceptable' is accused of soliciting campaign contributions in return for political favors.  The scandal has reverberated statewide, with some seeing it as evidence of rampant judicial corruption. Murphy's allies portray it as little more than an indiscretion by someone caught talking out of school, and view the criminal charges as a broad interpretation of the bribery statute. "I know people who think this is a partisan witch hunt to get Democrats off the bench so the governor can replace them with Republicans," said Heath Haussamen, a Las Cruces journalist who runs a popular blog called NMPolitics.net. But Haussamen said some Las Cruces Democrats were torn between supporting Murphy and condemning his objectionable comments. "It puts a number of Democrats in a very uncomfortable situation because of the dynamics at play," he said.  More News New Mexico

Train in Vain? Once a beacon of progress, the Rail Runner now faces an uncertain future

From the Santa Fe Reporter - It’s 6 pm in the middle of the week, and two-thirds of the seats on a southbound New Mexico Rail Runner Express train are full. Most of the passengers are coming home from a long day of work in Santa Fe. They live near or in Albuquerque, which offers a cheaper cost of living and “more things to do,” as one passenger puts it. On board, many of them shoot the breeze during the hour-long commute. A few chuckles and a feeling of camaraderie pervade the atmosphere. In its five-year history, the Rail Runner’s ridership has grown to 4,500 passengers per day. Last month, the train celebrated its 5 millionth passenger. Its financials, however, are far less rosy. This year, the Rail Runner lost $1.2 million in federal funding. By next year, the train, which costs roughly $24 million a year to run, could lose as much as $5 million. On top of that, a new study by the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration estimates that, in order to service debt the train has incurred, the state will be on the hook for a whopping $784 million by 2027. So far, the only solutions that have emerged are piecemeal—such as an impending fare increase, which will cover a meager 2.5 percent of the train’s total operating budget. The combination of mushrooming costs and a lack of big-picture solutions has led some detractors to push for shutting the Rail Runner down entirely. Read more

In New Mexico an interesting moon event

From the Weekly Alibi - E.J. Maliskas - On Saturday morning, a total eclipse of the moon will be visible in the skies of western Northern America. For those on the West Coast, the shadow of the Earth will begin to eclipse the moon at around 4:45 a.m. PST. By 6:05 PST, the moon will be fully engulfed in a reddish-brown light. The total eclipse will be visible all the way from the Pacific Coast of North America to Asia and Eastern Europe. Sadly, for us New Mexicans, we will miss out on the full-fledged, actual, total eclipse of the moon. We will, however, be able to see a partial eclipse at moonset, which will happen at 7:05 that morning. Partial or not, I contest that it will be quite romantic to face west for an eclipsed moonset whilst the sun rises over the Sandias to the east. This kind of magic doesn't happen every day, and this kind of eclipse won't happen again until 2014. Read more

Eurofighter Plane Coming to Holloman AFB

Alamogordo Daily News - The German air force plans to bring a new plane to Holloman Air Force Base on which to train, according to Col. Frank Kiesel, commander of the German Air Force Flying Training Center, who came to the regular Alamogordo City Commission meeting Tuesday to make the announcement. Kiesel said the German airmen at the GAFFTC train to fly the Phantom and Tornado, but the German air force plans to move Eurofighter training to Holloman as well. Kiesel said the German air force is restructuring. The German air force has been training pilots in the U.S. since 1958, and at Holloman since 1992. Kiesel said the GAFFTC currently has more than 600 airmen at the base, plus their dependents. He said the GAFFTC graduates 30 to 40 students per year. Kiesel said GAFFTC instructors are usually assigned to Holloman for three years and often request to return because they like the Tularosa Basin. "The German air force has a long future at Holloman," Kiesel said. Read full story here: News New Mexico

"Tense" Negotiations with Public Unions

Governor Martinez
The Santa Fe Reporter - To the three public employee unions currently negotiating new state contracts, the state’s offers are nothing more than the governor’s latest sneer toward organized labor. Though they’ve been at the table since the summer, both sides “haven’t even begun to address 75 percent of the contract” for Communications Workers of America members, according to Robin Gould, a lead negotiator for CWA. The Fraternal Order of Police and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have similar perspectives. “We haven’t gotten to the major issues yet,” David Heshley, executive director of the FOP’s state lodge, tells SFR. “I’m not expecting anything to get done [this month], and we’ve been going since July.”  Read full story here: News New Mexico


New Political Weapon - the Osama bin Laden Card

Osama bin Laden
Business Insider - President Barack Obama was just asked to respond to Republican charges that he has engaged in a foreign policy of appeasement. Obama responded: "Ask Osama bin Laden, and the 22 out of 30 top al Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement — or whoever is left out there, ask them about that." There you have it. Watch the video here: News New Mexico

Mimi Stewart Will Seek a 10th Term

Mimi Stewart
 Representative Mimi Stewart from House District # 21 in Albuquerque will seek re-election for the 10th time. Stewart has served in the New Mexico House of Representatives since 1995. In a tweet earlier this morning Stewart had this to say: "Thanks friends-fantastic fund raiser last night! 50 diverse folks w/ good food, great hosts, and hope for future. I'm running again 4 House!"


We Aren't Scientists

Dr. Ivar Giaever
On Tuesday morning it was 12 degrees outside. Being the fun-loving types that we are, we ran a number of audio clips poking fun at the "global warming" fanatics. We particularly made fun of the religious-like certainty they seem to have about the theories they so fully and unquestioningly embrace. It is nice to be listened to. We knew we had at least a few of the "faithful" listening that day because they immediately trashed us on various blogs. The main criticism of what we did and said on Tuesday seems to be that we have "no scientific credentials."
No, we are not scientists. However, Dr. Ivar Giaever is a scientist, and a pretty good one. He is a former professor with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the 1973 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics. It seems that back in September, Dr. Giaever abruptly announced his resignation from a premier physics society in disgust over its officially stated policy that "man made global warming is occurring." The official position of the American Physical Society (APS) supports the theory that man's actions have inexorably led to the warming of the planet, through increased emissions of carbon dioxide. Dr. Giaever does not agree.
He questioned the efforts of the fantatics to stifle scientific debate as follows: "In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim … is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this "warming" period," his email message said. Dr. Giaever is one of countless so-called "skeptics" with impeccable scientific credentials.
The problem the religious fanatics have with these scientists is the scientists think the idea of making policies that completely dismantle our existing energy infrastructure and the viability of our economy should be scrutinized.
Here is a very stubborn fact. The "theory" that global warming is taking place and is man-made is still subject to fierce scientific debate. And by the way, you don't have to be a scientist to realize this is a FACT. Anyone denying this fact is woefully uninformed. You can read the full story of the Nobel Prize winning scientist's resignation here: News New Mexico

PNM Elects 1st Female Chairwoman of the Board

Pat Vincent-Collawn
NM Business Weekly - President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn will become chairman of the board Jan. 1, making her the only woman in the nation to chair a publicly traded electric utility holding company. The board of directors elected Vincent-Collawn Dec. 7 to replace Jeff Sterba, who has chaired the board since 2000 and preceded Vincent-Collawn as PNM Resources’ president and CEO. Vincent-Collawn joined PNM Resources in 2007 as utilities president. She became PNM Resources president and COO in 2008, then CEO when Sterba retired in March 2010. Read full story here: News New Mexico

No Trial Date Yet for Vigil-Giron

Rebecca Vigil-Giron
NMPolitics - Because of pending motions, the resignation of one judge, and the expected recusal of another, there’s “no trial date in sight” for former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron and other defendants accused of bilking taxpayers out of millions of dollars. That’s according to the Albuquerque Journal, which reports today that Vigil-Giron has once again filed a motion seeking the dismissal of the case. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Richardson Grand Jury Will Meet December 13th

Bill Richardson
NMPolitics - A federal grand jury is scheduled to meet next week as part of its ongoing investigation into an accusation that former Gov. Bill Richardson had supporters pay off a woman to keep quiet about their alleged extramarital affair. The grand jury is expected to meet Tuesday in Albuquerque to hear testimony from witnesses, NMPolitics.net has learned. How soon the grand jury is expected to complete its work and decide whether to issue indictments isn’t known publicly. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Five Finalists for UNM President Job

KOB TV - On Thursday, the five finalists for the presidency of UNM will begin an intensive interview process. Over the next five days, the candidates will be interviewed by various university officials. The five finalists were announced earlier this week – they come from Idaho, Ohio, Arizona, Iowa and Texas. Read full story here: News New Mexico

NM Credit Outlook Clouded by Failure of Super Committee

Business Week - South Carolina, Tennessee and 119 top-rated municipal issuers had their credit outlook raised by Moody’s Investors Service to stable from negative, where they were placed because of exposure to federal spending cuts. The outlook remains negative for three top-rated states -- Maryland, New Mexico and Virginia -- and 36 municipalities, school districts and authorities because of their sensitivity to changes in U.S. aid or federal employment, Naomi Richman, a Moody’s analyst, said today in a statement. “Issuers with outlooks that remain negative are viewed as having greater exposure to potential cuts,” said Richman, a managing director in New York. Moody’s had revised the outlook for all the issuers to negative on Aug. 4 after taking the same step on U.S. government debt on Aug. 2. All are rated Aaa by the credit-grading company. The “expanded evaluation” of each government or agency looked at measures of federal aid and employment, health-care jobs, Medicaid spending and short-term debt, Richman said. The company also examined “exposure to capital markets disruptions” based on short-term debt, she said. South Carolina and Tennessee have “relatively lower levels of financial and economic exposure” to U.S. spending, Moody’s said. The economies of Maryland, New Mexico and Virginia “are highly dependent on federal employment and federal spending,” said Nick Samuels, a Moody’s analyst in New York. Read full story here: News New Mexico


"Channeling Teddy"


Governor Announces Education Proposals in Santa Fe

Susana Martinez
Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced a proposal to invest $17 million dollars in new funding to help New Mexico's children learn how to read. The Early Reading Initiative will provide new reading coaches and offer new screenings to students who are struggling to read, as well as increase funding for pre-K programs and supplemental instruction for children in need of reading assistance. The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 80% of New Mexico's 4th grade students cannot read at grade level, which can lead to poor student performance in later grades and a graduation rate in New Mexico that is among the lowest in the country. 
Hana Skandera
“We have an opportunity to invest in the future of our children by ensuring that they have a foundation for learning and success in life," said Governor Susana Martinez. "When our students can read, they can more easily achieve, and by monitoring our students' progress at an early age, we can step in and help those who are struggling so that every New Mexico child can read proficiently before entering the 4th grade."
As part of the $17 million Early Reading Initiative, the state would spend over $6 million to invest in reading coaches throughout New Mexico. Each reading coach would support a group of about six elementary schools, and would work closely with teachers on the best strategies to help struggling students find success. Teachers would also be provided with screening assessment tools to regularly monitor a student's reading progress in early grades, and struggling students would get the help and attention they need.
“We know that a child that can't read by the 3rd grade is four times more likely to drop out of high school,” said Public Education Department Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera. “Our children will be the leaders of our state before we know it. It's time we give them the opportunity they deserve.” As part of the Early Reading Initiative, the Governor will work in a bipartisan fashion with New Mexico lawmakers to ensure that students would no longer be advanced from the 3rd to the 4th grade without having learned basic reading skills.


In Defense of EPA: Farm Dust Prevention Act

Steve Pearce
Washington, DC (December 8, 2011) Today, Congressman Steve Pearce voted in favor of H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011, which would temporarily halt the EPA’s plans to revise the to place additional restrictions on farm dust that is sometimes kicked up by vehicles or farm equipment on dirt roads.
“The EPA’s actions to further regulate dust are a tremendous overreach that would prohibit New Mexico farmers and ranchers from doing their jobs,” said Pearce. “The dust under consideration here is naturally occurring and the amount produced is controlled by rainfall and blowing winds. If the EPA cannot control those factors, why should we expect our farmers and ranchers to?” "The caucus I Chair, the Congressional Western Caucus, released a Jobs Frontier Report that highlights 40 bills, that will reduce job killing regulations and start to put Americans back to work," Pearce continued. "The Farm Dust bill was highlighted in the report, because this legislation will give farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to continue to invest in their businesses without fear of harsh regulations. Washington’s purpose must be to expand job creation, not to control it so that this country can once again be the America where anything is possible and success is rewarded."
H.R. 1633 provides for a one-year moratorium on the EPA from adding any additional dust regulations already regulated under state, tribal or local law on production agriculture and rural America. The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act passed the House of Representatives on December 8, 2011 with a final vote of 268-150. Congressman Pearce was the only New Mexico Representative to vote in favor of this bill which supports our farming and ranching communities.