Santa Fe hearing set on proposed reusable bag ordinance

What if you spill in the bag?
NewsNM: Swickard - we are seconds away from the next set of rules about these bags that are to be used more than once. The problem is that if they have any previous food on them they could be deadly. From the Santa Fe New Mexican - An advisory committee considering a proposal to limit the use of plastic bags in Santa Fe wants to hear from residents about the idea. No elected official has yet agreed to introduce the ordinance, and meanwhile, plastics industry representatives and large-scale retail operators have already begun lobbying against it. The city of Santa Fe’s Business and Quality of Life Committee will accept testimony on a proposed reusable bag ordinance at its 8:30 a.m. meeting Monday, Oct. 1, on the first floor of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in the DeVargas Room. A “Grocery Bag Task Force” from the committee began working on the proposal in May after the city of Los Angeles adopted a phase-in ban on carryout bags at retail store. would call for a prohibition on “plastic carryout bags” at stores in the city and would impose a fee stores must collect if they provide paper bags. In August, the bag task force group met with “stakeholders” from Wal-Mart and Albertsons, as well as Adam Rahal, a student at Arizona State University who is conducting research on plastic bags. Rahal reported that 90 percent of the plastic bags used in the country are produced domestically using a derivative of natural gas, while the other 10 percent used here are made from oil. Rahal argued that the manufacturing of paper bags uses more water than the manufacturing of plastic bags, and said that the proposed ordinance might have the opposite effect of what is intended “because people will turn to other forms of plastic products.” The city Economic Development Division has posted a Web page with frequently asked questions about the efforts, among them, “Why are single-use plastic bags such a big deal?” The posted answer is: “Single use plastic bags present an environmental burden on society. Most ‘free’ plastic or paper bags are used for 12 minutes before being released as pollution into the environment or as waste into the landfill. Read more



Piss Christ: State Sponsored Blasphemy

Commentary by Jim Spence - Near midtown Manhattan today at the Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery, the National Endowment of the Arts sponsored artwork “Piss Christ” by alleged artist Andres Serrano will go on display for a month. Piss Christ was created twenty-five years ago. It features a photograph of a crucifix floating in urine.
It is worth noting that no Christians have organized a fire bombing of the National Endowment for the Arts offices in Washington D.C.
Andres Serrano
Columnist Mario Loyola of National Review illustrated the irony of how progressive Democrats in America deal with blasphemy. He suggested a test case. The National Endowment of the Arts could sponsor Serrano or another artist who is willing to create a “Piss Mohammed” art series. Then the NEA could ask the Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery to hang it right next to the Piss Christ exhibit. He mused that if the gallery decided to decline to show the exhibit, a small group of Manhattan atheists could be recruited to march with “piss portraits” of Mohammed and his fellow deities and prophets right up 1st Avenue past the United Nations, while pledging allegiance to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Loyola accurately suggests that progressive Democrats wouldn't be caught dead applying the same standards to blasphemy of Islam and Christianity. Loyola notes that the degree of respect for any given religion "is proportional to its proponents’ propensity for violence." Are we being bullied here in America? You bet we are. And you can also bet if devout Christian’s rioted over the Piss Christ exhibit in New York President Obama would not point the finger at the artist. How could he? Obama and his ilk are the types of people who continue to cast votes that give taxpayer dollars to the national Endowment for the Arts so it can sponsor people who create exhibits like Piss Christ.


NM court limits DWI license revocation

For a year and a half, the state Motor Vehicle Division could take away your driver’s license administratively even if the police officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
That changed this summer with a decision by the state Supreme Court.
In its unanimous opinion in Schuster vs. State of New Mexico, written by Justice Edward L. Chavez, the high court ruled that “MVD must find the arrest and underlying police activity leading to the arrest are constitutional as a prerequisite to revoking a driver’s license.”
Upon arrest for DWI in New Mexico, two processes start: one is criminal, overseen by a judge and requires the state to find someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction; the other is administrative, overseen by a state hearing officer and requires a 51 percent finding of guilt to strip someone’s driving privilege.
And in the case of Eric Schuster, who was arrested on suspicion of DWI outside a Farmington bar in May 2009, the officer did have reasonable suspicion to investigate Schuster for drunken driving and probable cause to arrest him, according to the court’s opinion.
So the court upheld MVD’s mandatory one-year revocation of Schuster’s driver’s license.
Ousama Rasheed, president of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, specializes in DWI law and argued the Schuster case before the Supreme Court.
The saga began in January 2011, Rasheed said, when the state Court of Appeals ruled in Glynn vs. State of New Mexico that the constitutionality of an arrest need not be considered in MVD’s administrative license revocation hearings.
Information from ABQ Journal


NM Gas Company working to prevent outages

February 2011 is a month many New Mexicans will remember, especially at the beginning when a massive cold front came through the state, dropping temperatures below zero.
The San Juan basin, where most of New Mexicans get gas to heat their homes froze up because of the temperatures. So the state turned to the Permian gas basin and West Texas, but they also had the same cold front. There was too much demand for the lack of supply at the time. Thousands of New Mexicans were without heat.

Almost two years later, the Company spoke with the Public Relations Commission Thursday to discuss how a disaster like February 2011 can be prevented. Company Vice President of Operations Ken Oostman said a "perfect storm" hit the entire region, surprising everyone.
"This particular storm that happened in february is extreme, and it affected all the suppliers of the wellheads," Oostman said.
Since the freeze, Oostman said the Company has worked with law enforcement to achieve better communication when weather events like February 2011 happen again.
"I think we're much better prepared," Oostman said. "From everything from communication with the local and the state authorities, Homeland security and emergency management.
Information from KOB.COM


Ruling means New Mexicans owed $10 million from lender

A New Mexico district judge's ruling could mean millions for consumers who took out small loans from a Dallas-based lender.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says his office's three-year legal battle against FastBucks, LLC, ended this week with a ruling saying the company took advantage of borrowers "to a grossly unfair degree."
King says the state's consumers could recover more than $10 million. The ruling issued Monday by Santa Fe District Judge Michael Vigil found that FastBucks crafted their installment loans to circumvent a 2007 law reining in payday loan abuses.
King alleged the loans carrying interest rates from 520 percent to 650 percent were unconscionable under the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act.
FastBucks lawyer David Streubel tells the Albuquerque Journal the company plans an appeal.
Information from KOB.COM


ABQ to lose 150 Cardinal Health jobs

Albuquerque will lose more jobs son when Cardinal Health starts cutting positions next month.
About 150 jobs will leave Albuquerque when Cardinal Health trims its workforce. The company told Action 7 News in a statement, "After a long decision-making process conducted over many months, the decision has been made to contract out 130 finance organization jobs to Xerox." Twenty other New Mexico positions are moving back to Ohio as well.
Layoffs start Tuesday and will be finished by spring 2013. After the transition, Cardinal Health said they estimate about 225 positions will stay in Albuquerque.
The dismal news comes after a recent study showed the city has had zero job growth since 2008.
"We are at a crossroads. We're at a place where we need to start making some really tough decisions, about what it is that we're going to do to be competitive," city Economic Development Director John Garcia said.
Garcia said changes may be in order to the city's tax policy to make it easier to do business.
In the short term, Garcia encourages New Mexicans to spend dollars locally and support small businesses.
"Maybe we're in a crisis and this really is a time for us to get behind a support efforts for making this business climate a little better," Garcia said.  

Information from KOAT.COM


Rio Rancho mayoral position debated

Mayor Tom Swisstack
Earlier this year, Rio Rancho voters decided to make their mayoral position full-time, but since then there has been a lot of talk about what that entails, what it should pay and if the mayor can have a second job.

Current Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack says he already does that.  But should the mayor be able to have two full-time jobs?  Swisstack is also the deputy county manager in Bernalillo County.
"I make my meetings, and no one is saying I don't do my job," Swisstack said.
The longtime politician challenged skeptics to show where he has neglected either position.
The committee pretty much suggested staying out of the matter, and said the public will have the opportunity to evaluate any mayor's performance through elections.
The mayor makes about $27,000 a year in Rio Rancho.  Any pay adjustment won't come up until 2014 when this mayoral term is finished. 

Information from KOAT.COM

The pattern at NMSU continues (part II)

Commentary by Jim Spence - In yesterday's column we explored all the ways in which NMSU has fallen into a pattern of feebly attempting to acquire good leadership instead of developing it. The results have been disappointing and the president's office has turned into a revolving door. What could change the mindset at NMSU and provide a positive catalyst for the future?
There are many positive steps NMSU could take to lift its status as an institution of higher learning. Though the damage done by poor management at the athletic department is now going to be exceedingly difficult to repair, it can still be done.
On the academic side of the equation we know the southwest needs a Veterinarian School and a Dental School. With strong leadership and a can-do attitude, NMSU could easily create a long range plan to begin building both schools. These steps could provide the foundation for a much better student recruiting and a stronger alumni system.
What lies ahead for NMSU once Barbara Couture is officially history? Until there is a profound paradigm shift, expect more of the same. Institutions tend to repeat previous processes. Look for the regents to announce another exhaustive “national search” for a new president. This sort of language will make the process seem bigger than life. Of course the likely outcome is the selection of yet another skilled political operative with very little vision outside of personal ambition. Once entrenched, alumni can expect the next president to ask for huge tuition hikes on students, report more massive multi-million dollar losses in the athletic department, and initiate no movement towards creating advanced schools for dentists and vets.
Jim Collins, a nationally recognized researcher wrote the book, “Good to Great.” It is a study on what separates outstanding organizations from the pack. NMSU has been a prototype for the pack. Hiring CEOs from the outside rather than developing them from within is a telltale sign of mediocrity. In seventeen hundred years of combined life spans, Collins found only four individual incidents when going outside for a CEO—produced extraordinary results. He says homegrown management is integral in visionary organizations by a factor of over six times.
If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always gotten. As an institution, the preceding phrase defines the modus operandi at NMSU.


The pattern at NMSU continues

Jim Spence (left)
Commentary by Jim Spence - Suddenly we are learning that NMSU President Barbara Couture has been placed on leave. Rumors are running rampant regarding her status with the Board of Regents. One thing seems certain. The leadership hiring processes, done as a matter of routine at NMSU, will not change even if the president changes…..again.
Time and time again, instead of showing confidence in its own institution’s ability to develop management talent, the NMSU Board of Regents chooses to go outside this unique area of the country for new leadership. Accordingly, we see the same old pattern of disappointing results. Each national “search” produces presidents and athletic directors that deliver underwhelming performances once they arrive in Las Cruces.
Some would argue a few of the presidents who used NMSU as a mere stepping stone to a job somewhere else helped NMSU during their brief stays. The facts suggest these men were more interested in the visions regarding “their own futures," than those of NMSU.
Let’s look at five facts. 1) Tuition and fees at NMSU have been hiked at double the rate of inflation for decades. 2) The nursing program at DABCC, which was threatened with the loss of basic accreditation several years ago due to neglect, actually lost it. 3) Despite living in one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, attendance has been stagnant at football games and lower at basketball games for decades. 4) As a result of a complete lack of strategic vision and fan-base building, the NMSU athletic program has finally been decimated. Today NMSU faces a virtual doomsday scenario as one conference after another rejects NMSU’s membership applications.
NMSU Regent Javier Gonzales
5) The remarkably duplicitous behavior of NMSU Regent Javier Gonzales is another under-publicized black mark on the NMSU leadership ledger. A political appointee to begin with, Gonzales had a golden opportunity, through his political influence, to land a sorely needed film studio and sound stage for the Creative Media Institute at NMSU. Instead, while purportedly serving NMSU’s interests as a regent, Gonzales collaborated with his political connections all over the state on behalf of cronies at Santa Fe Studios, a private entity. For a still undisclosed “consultant fee,” Gonzales managed to steer a taxpayer funding package worth more than $20 million to the Hool brothers who own Santa Fe studios. Today, while Santa Fe Studios operates an incredible state of the art private facility built with public money, NMSU’s Creative Media Institute attempts to function while located in the bowels of Milton Hall, one of the oldest buildings on the NMSU campus. In part II of this column tomorrow we will explore what NMSU could do to create more positive momentum for the future.


U.S. Interior Secretary reveals name of new South Valley wildlife refuge

Courtesy U.S Department of Interior
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar dedicated the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque on Thursday, making it the first urban refuge in the Southwest and one of a handful across the nation.
In his announcement in Albuquerque, Salazar unveiled the name of the refuge for the very first time.
The name, Valle de Oro (Valley of Gold), was selected following a social media campaign that solicited suggested names from local and national audiences.
Proposed exactly one year ago, the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge was formally established last Friday through the acquisition of 390 acres of Valley Gold Farms, a former dairy and hay farm.
The 559th unit of the national wildlife refuge system is within a 30-minute drive of half of New Mexico’s population, providing ample outdoor recreation and education opportunities.
The former Price's Dairy operated at the site, which is in the South Valley.
Later Wednesday, Salazar will travel to Wind River Ranch near Mora, N.M. for a signing ceremony establishing the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area on over 4,200 acres donated by the Thaw Charitable Trust.
“Today we celebrate two new jewels in the National Wildlife Refuge System -- Valle de Oro, an urban oasis for people and wildlife just five miles from downtown Albuquerque, and Rio Mora, which will serve as an anchor for cooperative conservation efforts in the Rio Mora watershed,” Salazar said in a release.
“Both refuges exemplify the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation ethic built on partnerships and to fuel economic growth in local communities.”
Information from


Durable goods orders fall off a cliff

The U.S. economy is behaving more and more like Europe as 2012 unfolds. According to a report by the Commerce Department this morning, durable goods orders, a measure of demand for capital equipment and machinery, fell a staggering 13 percent in August. A broader measure of economic performance showed even worse news. Previous estimates of second quarter GDP growth were reduced again. The latest tally suggests the U.S. economy grew at just 1.25 percent in the second quarter. This figure is dramatically less than the anemic rate of 1.7% that was previously forecast.
Commentary by Jim Spence - Whether or not these dismal figures will affect the upcoming November elections is anyone’s guess. Some polls suggest voters do not realize or do not care that President Obama has been steering U.S. policies towards mirroring those of Europe where economies are also imploding. An example of this type of Obama voter is captured on this recent video. Other polls suggest that Americans have a strong sense that the nation’s economic woes are being damaged by public policies that have resulted in an 8% drop in median household income over the last twelve months while an additional fifteen million U.S. citizens have been added to the food stamp rolls since 2009.


State office space expands as workforce declines

State government office space has expanded by 6 percent in the past four years while the number of state workers had dropped by 14 percent, according to a legislative audit critical of the management of buildings owned and leased by the state.
It’s costing New Mexico taxpayers $47 million a year for the state to lease office space, and a Legislative Finance Committee audit report Wednesday recommends more consolidation in the use of government buildings.
The audit lauded the Property Control Division in the General Services Department for saving $1.2 million on leases in the past year but said more should be done to trim costs by consolidating workers in government-owned buildings and ending leases.
Auditors visited 18 state buildings and found 251 vacant offices and work stations.
“Agencies hold surplus space with the expectation to fill vacancies, but incur lease and operating costs for the empty space,” the report said...
Story from The Albuquerque Journal


New Mexico Lottery scholarship fund faces financial trouble

Lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez may have to consider how to shore up a college scholarship fund that's bankrolled by the state lottery.
The Legislative Finance Committee reported Wednesday the scholarship fund is projected to run out of money in the next fiscal year, which starts in July 2013. The Legislature meets in January.
The fund's cash balances are shrinking as scholarship costs exceed annual lottery revenue, which isn't keeping pace with student demand for the scholarships and rising tuition costs
If nothing is done, the LFC said scholarships could be limited to the $40 million expected from the lottery but that's less than the $60 million in scholarships awarded this year. The state can lower the amount of the scholarships to less than the full cost of tuition.


Three new West Nile cases in NM

Three more New Mexico residents have been infected with West Nile virus, bringing the total in the state this year to 31 human cases.
One death has been reported so far, a 76-year-old man from Bernalillo County whose death was reported on Sept. 11.
New Mexico Department of Health officials announced Wednesday that the new cases involve a 41-year-old man from San Juan County, a 70-year-old man from Bernalillo County and a 62-year-old man from Sandoval County.
Of the 31 cases, 10 are in Dona Ana County.
Health officials say August and September are peak times for West Nile cases in New Mexico.
Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches.
Human cases of the disease have been reported in the state every year since 2003.


Gov. travels to Texas for political events

Gov. Susana Martinez is traveling to political events this week in Tennessee and Texas.
The governor's political adviser said Martinez spoke Wednesday at a Republican State Leadership Committee luncheon in Nashville and then returned to New Mexico. The event was part of a project to recruit and elect more Republican women to state and local offices.
Adviser Jay McCleskey said the GOP group covered the governor's travel expenses.
Martinez heads to Texas on Thursday for political events in Austin and Houston. She's raising money for the Republican Governors Association as well as her re-election committee and her political action committee called SusanaPAC.
The governor returns to New Mexico on Friday.
McCleskey said the governor's political organization will cover the costs of the Texas trip.


NM prepares for prescription drug take-back day

New Mexico is about to embark on another prescription drug take-back day. On Saturday the state will join the rest of the nation for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The state is giving anyone their chance to turn in and unused or expired medications to locations in their communities with no questions asked.
The event, which is sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Drug Enforcement administration, will provide free, anonymous drop-off sites throughout the state for safe medication disposal.
The Department of Health released statistics showing the state has the highest overdose rate from prescriptions. Between 2001 and 2010, the overdose rate increased by nearly 62 percent between 2001 and 2010.
Information from KOAT.COM


Vaughn police down to a dog

The police chief of the small eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn resigned Wednesday, leaving the town with just one certified member on its police force — a drug-sniffing dog named Nikka.
Dave Romero, attorney for the town, said Wednesday that police Chief Ernest “Chris” Armijo decided to step down after news stories reported that he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun because of his criminal background.
“He decided the attention was distracting,” Romero said.
State officials said Armijo couldn’t carry a gun since acknowledging that he owed tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent child support payments in Texas. Armijo also faces new felony charges after being accused of selling a town-owned rifle and pocketing the cash.
Romero said Armijo is working to clear up the latest case. He said Armijo has not ruled out seeking the police chief’s position again if his case is resolved and the position is open.
According to records, the only qualified member of the Vaughn Police Department is Nikka, a drug-sniffing dog. Vaughn’s other officer isn’t certified and pleaded guilty to charges of assault and battery last year.
But Romero said that not having an officer qualified to carry a gun didn’t put Vaughn at risk. “England doesn’t allow police officers to carry guns,” he said. “Sometimes the strongest weapon in law enforcement is communication.”...
Information from The Albuquerque Journal


Update: NMSU President on leave

News late Tuesday that New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture was on a leave of absence stunned the university community, with details still a mystery more than a day later.
Regents and school officials confirmed Tuesday that she was on leave, but refused to provide details, or even whether it was a forced or voluntary leave.
Couture, the former senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was hired at NMSU in 2009 after a national search.
Regents chairman Mike Cheney declined to discuss any details and said more information will be available at a public meeting on Monday.
“I really want to try to adhere to the (New Mexico) Open Meetings Act and try to be as transparent as possible … and make an effort to be honest,” Cheney said.
Faculty Senate chairman Tim Ketelaar said he was surprised to learn of Couture’s leave after seeing it on the news Tuesday evening, and is puzzled over the reason. He said she had a positive relationship with faculty.
Couture, 64, replaced former president Michael Martin, who left for a post in Louisiana. Two interim presidents served in the year between Martin and Couture.
Couture did not return calls seeking comment. Her leave began Monday, two days after regents met in a closed-session on Saturday.
In a statement released Wednesday, NMSU’s senior vice president for external relations, Ben Woods, said Provost Wendy Wilkins will assume Couture’s administrative duties.
He said regents plan a special closed session on Monday from 1 to 3 p.m., to be followed by a public meeting. Cheney said that public meeting will be to address the situation...


The Sheryl Williams Stapleton magical disappearing reserved state fair parking space

Courtesy of NM Watchdog
New Mexico WatchdogWhy does State Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton have a reserved parking space on the grounds of the State Fair?  Simply asking the question made it disappear.  Poof! It’s a simple question.  But Rep. Stapleton won’t provide an answer.  And now the State Fair tells us a special parking space reserved for the legislator can’t be found.
Like Geoffrey Rush’s wonderful line from Shakespeare In Love:  “‘Tis a mystery!”
We happened upon Representative Stapleton’s reserved parking space in August.  There it was, just steps from the door of the Sheryl M. Williams Stapleton African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall. “UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED AT OWNER’S EXPENSE,” the official sign warns anyone even considering pulling between the white lines that set apart several square yards of tarmac for its Rightful Occupant.
The Sheryl Williams Stapleton Memorial Reserved Parking Space was still there a month later when we passed by on our annual pilgrimage during the New Mexico State Fair for a chicharone and bean burrito in The Spanish Village. Read More News New Mexico


Pearce a champion for small business

Steve Pearce with Dan Danner
Last week while Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan were voting to scrap the work requirement in the welfare reform law passed during the Clinton Adminstration, Congressman Steve Pearce was voting to preserve the work incentive.
This week the National Federation of Independent Businesses presented Steve Pearce with their Guardian of Small Business award. “I am honored to be recognized by the NFIB,” said Pearce. “Small businesses are New Mexico’s job creators, and one of my top priorities in Congress is to protect our small business owners from burdensome taxes and unnecessary regulations.”
Dan Danner, president and CEO of the NFIB, thanked Pearce for his work, saying, “In the 112th Congress, Representative Steve Pearce proved that he is a champion of small Business.”
A former business owner himself, Rep. Pearce recognizes that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. In his nearly eight years in Congress, he has worked tirelessly for small businesses, fighting against unnecessary taxes and overregulation that make job creation impossible.

Spaceport America awards contracts

LAS CRUCES, NM - The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) Board of Directors approved the award of two new contracts yesterday, moving the spaceport closer to its grand opening in December 2013. The board approved the award of the runway modification contract to A.S Horner, an Albuquerque-based company that has been doing business for over 80 years. The NMSA board also approved a contract award to Ashbaugh Construction for its proposed site of the Sierra County Welcome Center.
The existing runway is 10,000 feet, and the new contract will extend the runway to 12,000 feet by July 2013. “It will provide additional safety for landing Virgin Galactic flights as well as make the Spaceport more attractive to other aerospace customers,” said Christine Anderson, Executive Director of the NMSA. The $8.4 million expansion is expected to begin shortly with design work already being completed. The Board also approved a contract award to Ashbaugh Construction for its proposed site for the Sierra County Welcome Center.

Las Cruces planning commission rejects strip club

Robin Zielinski/Sun-News
The planning and zoning commission in Las Cruces has rejected a proposal for the first strip club in the city.
The commission voted 3-1 Tuesday night to deny the application for a club called "The Bronx."
City planning staff had recommended approval because it met city zoning requirements.
But the Las Cruces Sun-News reports ( ) the commission heard two hours of testimony that was overwhelmingly opposed to the club.
Opponents including ministers and business leaders quoted scripture and warned of a moral catastrophe if the club was approved. They argued that the club would objectify women, damage the city's character and quality of life, increase crime, lower property values and erode the social fabric.


NM boy mauled by 5 dogs

A 12-year-old Chaparral boy is recovering in a hospital after being mauled by five dogs and suffering more than 50 bites.
Dona Ana County authorities say charges are pending against the owner of the German shepherds who hasn't provided proof of vaccinations yet for any of the animals.
The boy was walking home from a friend's house Sunday night when he was attacked. Witnesses in the area came to the boy's rescue and called for help.
The name of the boy hasn't been released. Authorities say the victim was in stable condition Tuesday.
County investigators say the dogs were allegedly running loose when the attack happened. Four of the five dogs have been captured and investigators still are looking for the fifth German shepherd.


NMSU study looks at drought impact on chile

A New Mexico State University researcher is trying to find out whether the pungency, color and yield of northern chile varieties are affected when crops receive less water.

Graduate research assistant Israel Calsoyas has been studying the effects of deficit irrigation on three northern New Mexico chile cultivars for the past two summers.
She says the region's chile is touted for its ability to withstand stressful growing conditions compared to commercial cultivars.
Chile growers in the north usually irrigate fields every seven days. Calsoyas used different watering cycles to see how they would affect the plants.
Preliminary results show the pungency of one of the varieties changed, but color and yield remained the same for the first test season.
Calsoyas says the second season of data is still being analyzed.



Santa Fe changes panhandling ordinance

The Santa Fe City Council on Monday unanimously approved an amendment to a city ordinance that changes the definition of panhandling to place new restrictions on non-vocal or “passive” solicitations.
The ordinance previously stated that “the act of passively standing or sitting, with a sign or other indication that a donation is being sought without vocal request, other than in response to an inquiry by another person” should not be subject to panhandling restrictions. That language has now been removed.
“It’s important to point out the ordinance permits panhandling,” said Alfred Walker, assistant city attorney. “It (now) makes no distinction between passive and active panhandlers.”
The amendment expands the ordinance to include written and other non-verbal solicitations, such as holding up a sign asking for help, in rules that limit how and where panhandling can take place.
The changes also prohibit panhandling within 15 feet of the entrance or exit to a public transportation facility and in off-street parking lots and structures, additions that were taken from Albuquerque’s panhandling ordinance...



10-year suspension in horse doping case

John H. Bassett
Prominent horse trainer John H. Bassett, one of three trainers whose quarter horses tested positive for an exotic painkiller at Ruidoso Downs in May, has been suspended from racing for 10 years, fined $10,000 and ordered to return any purse money won by the drugged horses.
In addition, the trainer for horses owned or partly owned by state Racing Commissioner Ray Willis and his wife, Lola, also was suspended and fined for doping.
Bassett, who has trained two winners of the racetrack’s prestigious $2 million-plus All American Futurity, was handed the sanctions Saturday by New Mexico Racing Commission stewards, following a hearing in Hobbs.
The sanctions reflect what had been the state’s maximum penalty for the use of the drug dermorphin, a potent painkiller derived from the skin of a tree frog native to South America. Each infraction carried a maximum penalty of five years’ suspension, a $5,000 fine and return of purse money.
Since the May infractions, the governor-appointed New Mexico Racing Commission has adopted more stringent regulations on horse doping, including harsher penalties. Under the new rules, owners can be held liable along with the trainers. Under the old rules, owners could not be penalized...


NMSU President on leave

Barbara Couture
The president of New Mexico State University is on leave, but a campus spokeswoman and the NMSU Board of Regents is not releasing any information about the circumstances behind her absence.
A university spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday night that Barbara Couture, NMSU’s president since January 2010, is on leave, but she declined to say more than that.
“The NMSU Board of Regents has no comment regarding President Couture, and no statement will be released at this time,” NMSU spokeswoman Minerva Baumann said in an email. “Dr. Couture is currently on leave. As a public institution, the Board of Regents will follow the rules of the Open Meetings Act regarding any personnel decisions.”
Several regents could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night.
The board has met twice behind closed doors in recent weeks, most recently on Saturday, to discuss unspecified legal and personnel matters. 


Replacement journalists


Report says NM infrastructure is inadquate

Engineers have concluded that repair and construction funding for New Mexico's infrastructure is inadequate and that some critical infrastructure such as flood control is deteriorating fast.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the American Society of Civil Engineers concluded the state's infrastructure is average.
A report by the group says deficiencies are largely the result of age and a lack of investment in improving and maintaining them.
The engineers recommended the state consider tolls, user fees and other methods to fund improvements.
The report says New Mexico's airports receive only about 66 percent of the funding they need and are experiencing a steady decline.
The group also says more than 70 percent of the state's dams are considered deficient or not in satisfactory condition.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal.


New caves discovered at Carlsbad Caverns

Caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park that are millions of years old are still being explored today.
Cavers just made a huge discovery there, and it's continuing to spark the curiosity of people around the world.

There are 117 known caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. When explorers ventured into Lechuguilla Cave this summer, they found new passages and climbed for days to discover one of the largest rooms in the cave.

"That was totally new, no one had ever seen that before," explained Stan Allison, cave technician for Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  "So it's really exciting to be able to go somewhere where no one has ever been before, ever."

And it's what volunteers from all over the world aim to do there. On an expedition in May, skilled cavers made a five-day climb to the top of a 535-foot dome, now known as the deepest pit at the park.

Volunteers spent a week in the cave gathering information and exploring.
"They came out with about a mile of new survey, which brings Lechuguilla Cave to a little over 135 miles of surveyed cave," said Allison.  That makes it the sixth-longest cave in the world, he added.

Allison said Lechuguilla Cave has been known since the early 1900s when cavers dug through the entrance area. Back then, the cave was considered to be about 500 ft. long...


Aircraft crashes at Double Eagle Airport

An aircraft has crashed at Double Eagle Airport near Artrisco Vista and Interstate 40.
A man was trying to land an experimental aircraft when it crashed. Authorities said the plane was blown off the runway. 
The pilot is expected to be OK, according to Sunport spokesman Dan Jiron. 
Albuquerque police, Albuquerque firefighters and state police are at the crash scene. 
There is a minor fuel spill in the area. 

Study says ABQ should cut jobs

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry 
A draft report by consultants hired by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry to evaluate the organizational structure of city government has recommended cutting about 50 jobs and downsizing the city's fleet of vehicles by 20 percent.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Matrix Consulting Group's report also recommended creating about a dozen new jobs, increasing animal adoption fees and having one company - not two - in charge of managing and marketing the Convention Center.
A city official says it will take months to analyze the report by the California-based company and determine which recommendations to pursue.
Matrix estimates its recommendations would result in at least $4.7 million in annual savings or new revenue, though that figure would be offset somewhat by suggestions for increased spending in other areas.


No funds for LANL project in Senate bill

A budget bill approved by the Senate on Saturday and headed to President Barack Obama’s desk contains no money for a multi-billion plutonium project at Los Alamos National Laboratory, prompting cheers from nuclear weapons activists.
But the yearlong congressional debate over the future of the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility isn’t over.
Defense authorization bills still pending in the House and Senate would continue development of the CMRR facility at LANL over the objections of the White House. The project has a price of about $6 billion, which is a key reason that the Obama administration and some in Congress want to kill it.
The Senate on Saturday passed a so-called “continuing resolution” to keep the federal government operational for the next six months, giving the deeply divided Congress more time to negotiate a longer-term federal budget deal.
The stopgap measure contained no line item for the CMRR facility – in fact, it didn’t mention the project at all.
The president’s 2013 budget zeroed out funding for CMRR. The continuing resolution, once Obama signs it, will keep the government running until March. Final decisions about CMRR spending in 2013 will be made when Congress enacts full-year spending and defense authorizing legislation...


Muslim Day speakers call for end to first amendment

Is there a tie in between radical Muslims in the Middle East who are burning U.S. embassies and murdering diplomats and so-called moderate Muslims in places like New York City? Some people would argue no. Some people would suggest home grown threats to freedom in America as defined by the very first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are not threatened by the spread of radical Islam.

Take a look at this video. It captures Muslim speakers invited to speak to a gathering in New York City just this weekend on Muslim Day Parade there. The words and phrases uttered by these people, just a few steps from Ground Zero are chilling. This occurred on American soil in an event that was actually sanctioned by the city of New York.