Santa Teresa is Booming

New Mexico Business Weekly - If there’s a development hot spot in New Mexico in this economic downturn, it’s Santa Teresa in southern New Mexico. I’ve been writing about public and private efforts to build the Santa Teresa industrial zone since 1999. I’ve never seen such accelerated development, excitement and buzz at the border as I did in my latest reporting trip there in November. The Union Pacific Railroad’s $400 million investment in a new, intermodal transshipment hub, combined with the explosive growth in operations just south of the border by Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn, is generating unprecedented attention from national and international businesses interested in setting up operations.

Bill to name courthouse for Edwin Mechem

From the Alamogordo Daily News - By Milan Simonich, Texas-New Mexico Newspapers - The most famous case of Edwin L. Mechem's storied career was one in which he did not preside as the judge and that he did not solve. Mechem was a first-time candidate for governor when he promised he would reopen the investigation into the murder of an 18-year-old waitress named Ovida "Cricket" Coogler of Las Cruces. In June 1951, six months after Mechem took office, state prosecutors tried Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerry Nuzum for Coogler's murder. The government's case was so weak that District Judge Charles Fowler ordered a verdict of acquittal for Nuzum after four days of testimony. "Assuming that every bit of the evidence submitted by the state is true, there is nothing but conjecture, pure and simple, to connect the defendant with the death," Fowler said.
Nuzum, then 27, said he was "the fall guy" because the state had to try to convict somebody in Coogler's death. From the governor's office in Santa Fe, Mechem said: "The Coogler case isn't closed. We are going to keep working on it." But the case receded from the headlines and from Mechem's list of priorities. Coogler's murder was never solved. Mechem, himself dead for nine years, was back in the news last week. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., introduced legislation to name the federal courthouse in Las Cruces in honor of Mechem. "Edwin Mechem is an iconic and prolific leader whose legacy should live on in the state," Pearce said in a statement. "His service to our state as a United States senator, governor and federal judge deserves recognition." Pearce said interest in naming the courthouse for Mechem actually began in 2002, after Mechem died at age 90. The state's U.S. district judges and federal appeals court judges sent a letter to the New Mexico congressional delegation seeking the recognition for Mechem. Now Pearce is reviving the effort. A native of Alamogordo, Mechem attended what is now New Mexico State University and received a law degree from the University of Arkansas. He became an FBI agent during World War II, then practiced law in Las Cruces. People took notice when he ran as a Republican and won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 1946. The GOP was a decided underdog in New Mexico during that era. His star rising, Mechem became the Republican candidate for governor in 1950. He promised "a complete new investigation" into Coogler's beating death. Mechem also referred to her murder as "the Nuzum case." Mechem was just 38 when he won the election in an upset, the first Republican in 20 years to become governor. As promised, he assigned state police officers to help re-investigate the Coogler case. Jerry Apodaca, a future governor of New Mexico, was a teenager in Las Cruces when Coogler died and Nuzum was tried. Looking back, he said the case was ruined by a controversial sheriff, Happy Apodaca, who was no relation. "It was unsolvable because of the way it was handled from the beginning," Jerry Apodaca said. Read more

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Pay Later: Bingaman is "Glad" Funding for Social Security Will Remain Reduced for At Least 60 More Days

Jeff Bingaman (left)
WASHINGTON – Congress reached a compromise late in the week that began as a temporary policy of reducing funding to the Social Security program. U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman issued the following statement about the final passage of the so-called two-month extension of the payroll tax cut: “I’m glad the House of Representatives agreed to the two-month extension of this tax cut for working families.
New Mexicans have come to rely on this tax cut to buy food, pay for medications and fill their gas tanks. It would have been a mistake to let it expire,” Bingaman said. “Although this is a temporary fix, it gives Congress time in the new year to come to an agreement on extending this tax cut through 2012.” Bingaman offered no comment on whether he plans to propose reducing benefits to present or future Social Security recipients, increasing eligibility ages, or increasing contributions into the system that went cash flow negative earlier this year when the contributions to the program were slashed.